Warriors owners Eric Watson and Sir Owen Glenn are
locked in a new, international legal stoush - with hundreds
of millions of dollars in dispute involving the pair's
joint-venture investment company.
Sir Owen is taking legal action to retrieve money he says he
loaned to the investment company - but Mr Watson disputes his
claims and his lawyer revealed last night that he was taking
his own legal action.
The battle over funds held by British Virgin
Islands-registered company Spartan Capital dwarfs the $6
million dispute between the men over Sir Owen's stake in the
Warriors rugby league club. "It's a hell of a lot more
money," Sir Owen said.
Asked to confirm the Herald's information that the sum
claimed to be involved ran to hundreds of millions of
dollars, Sir Owen said: "Yep. That's all I can say. It's sub
Sir Owen's firm Kea Investments began legal action in the
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court against Spartan - jointly
owned by Kea and Mr Watson's Novatrust - on June 4.
A hearing determining the jurisdiction for future proceedings
has been set down for September 23, with lawyers for Sir Owen
to argue the case should be heard in Jersey, where both he
and Mr Watson have interests.
Mr Watson said yesterday that he considered the matter to be
private and "I am not about to get involved with a public
"I can't tell you much. It's a commercial dispute. It will
resolved over time in the courts or not in the courts.
"I view these things as private and confidential until they
are not. I would believe and hope that Owen would work the
Sir Owen will argue that Spartan should be wound up and money
he claims Kea loaned to the company returned.
This follows an "irretrievable breakdown in relations between
the 50 per cent shareholders", states a legal document to the
court, prepared by lawyers for Kea.
The joint venture was dependent on trust and confidence
between the parties that no longer exists, the document
"Individuals connected with Kea on the one hand and
[Novatrust] on the other have suffered a very serious
breakdown in personal and business relations such as that
there is no longer any trust and confidence between them," it
It further claims Sir Owen and Mr Watson were unable to agree
on an annual operating budget and took a "fundamentally
different view" of appropriate investments.
But Mr Watson's lawyer, Don Stanway, said they believed Sir
Owen's account was fundamentally misleading. "There is
presently substantial litigation proceeding in international
jurisdictions including the [British Virgin Islands] and
England. That litigation is being brought against persons and
entities associated with Sir Owen ... ," Mr Stanway said in a
statement last night.
"The damages claimed are very substantial indeed, and
significantly exceed the sum that was contributed to the
venture by entities associated with Sir Owen. We have been
advised that since these matters are now before the courts,
it is not appropriate for us to comment any further."
Sir Owen and Mr Watson are also engaged in legal proceedings
in the NZ High Court over Sir Owen's 50 per cent stake in the
In a report in today's Herald, Sir Owen says he believes Mr
Watson targeted him when he became aware he had funds
available for investment - a suggestion Mr Watson denies.
It was a friendship that included golfing trips and social
outings on Sir Owen's superyacht Ubiquitous but quickly
turned sour once the pair became entangled financially.
"[Going into business with Mr Watson] just sort of fitted in.
To this day I don't know why the good Lord put us together,"
Sir Owen said.
Mr Watson laughed at the suggestion he targeted Sir Owen.
He said Sir Owen had pursued him because he was "super keen"
to buy into a sports team as it would help to boost his