High-flying businessman Alex van Heeren is set to face a
fresh legal challenge from his former business partner which
could see him forced to give up half his assets which include
luxury resort Huka Lodge.
The long running legal spat between the well-connected Mr van
Heeren and his former business partner, South Africa-based
Michael Kidd, was heading back to court, Mr Kidd's lawyer
NZ First Leader Winston Peters last week said the lodge was
being sold to Chinese interests, a claim that has been
dismissed by Mr van Heeren's New Zealand business associates.
However the lodge is among Mr van Heeren's assets which are
subject to a claim first brought in the High Court by Mr Kidd
Mr van Heeren bought Huka Lodge in 1984 with what Mr Kidd
said were funds from their business partnership.
When the partnership ended, Mr Kidd signed an agreement which
saw him receive just US$3 million of assets valued
conservatively at US$38.5 million including over 30kg of
gold, Huka Lodge and Fiji's Dolphin Island resort.
Mr Kidd also signed another document which both indemnified
Mr van Heeren against any future claims by Mr Kidd but also
stated any subsequent disputes had to be settled in South
In a 1997 ruling, Justice Robert Smellie said those documents
were an absolute defence against Mr Kidd's claims in New
Zealand. Mr Kidd challenged the validity of the documents in
the South African High Court last year and won.
Mr Kidd's Auckland-based lawyer Brent O'Callahan yesterday
confirmed he would be "filing documents to progress
proceedings imminently" in the High Court in New Zealand. He
refused to comment further.
Mr van Heeren who is currently travelling in Africa did not
respond to requests for comment but his lawyer Chris Hodson,
QC, told the Herald Huka Lodge was not at stake in the
litigation as Mr Kidd was primarily seeking an "accounting"
of assets owned by the partnership when it broke up.
1980 - Alex van Heeren and Michael Kidd move their steel
trading business from SA to NZ.
1984 - Mr van Heeren buys Huka Lodge.
1991 - Partnership breaks up.
1996 - Mr Kidd sues Mr van Heeren for half of his NZ assets.
1997 - Justice Robert Smellie rules SA courts must decide
whether documents signed by Mr Kidd mean he has no case.
2013 - High Court in SA rules those documents are void.