Colin Armer's dirty dairying claim

On the eve of a sale, Dairy Holdings shareholder Colin Armer is heading to court to try to protect his interests alleging underhand tactics and threats.

On the eve of a sale, Dairy Holdings shareholder Colin Armer is heading to court to try to protect his interests alleging underhand tactics and threats.

Mr Armer has accused the South Canterbury Finance receivers and fellow shareholders who are selling the dairy farming company.

Mr Armer confirmed the claims in his High Court action to NBR today and said it was unfortunate and unnecessary but he was being frozen out by the majority shareholders (he and his wife have a 16.6% stake).

In a statement of claim filed in the High Court at Auckland, Mr Armer and his wife Dale claim that the other shareholders have unilaterally thrown out a pre-emptive shareholders’ agreement. The agreement requires shareholders seeking to quit their shares to offer them to other shareholders first.

Mr Armer’s claim alleges the other shareholders tried to force his hand when an agent of theirs tried to force him to sign a modified shareholder agreement.

The agent allegedly threatened to inform the Serious Fraud Office about a $14.5 million loan to Dairy Holdings and a small portion to the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme that Mr Armer had guaranteed.

Mr Armer’s statement alleges that the agent told him he had the ability to refer the matter to the SFO or call them off.

The $14.5 million was from South Canterbury Finance. But the finance company had required additional personal security from Mr Armer before providing it. The other directors of Dairy Holdings knew about the arrangement, the statement of claim says.

Near the end of 2010, NBR received information suggesting that the loan required journalistic investigation and duly reported on it. But at that time Mr Armer deflected inquiries, stating the loan was a private matter. 

One of the matters that Mr Armer complains about in his statement is a plan by the other shareholders to spilt Dairy Holdings and sell its assets rather than selling their shares and maintaining it as an entity.

The receivers of South Canterbury said today that the matters in the Armer claim had nothing to do with them.

A full report will be published in the NBR magazine on Friday.