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Kerr claims court win over $A37m Torchlight loan

A huge loan fee claimed by wealthy Australian led to High Court battle.

Tim Hunter
Tue, 20 Oct 2015

See also: Risk ‘off the scale’ on Torchlight loan

A High Court battle between NBR Rich Lister George Kerr and wealthy Australian John Grill has ended with a ruling in favour of Mr Kerr.

The two were locked in dispute over a $A31.5 million fee claimed by Mr Grill after the Torchlight private equity fund, controlled by Mr Kerr, was 19 months late in repaying a $A37m loan from Mr Grill’s company Wilaci.

This morning NZX-listed Pyne Gould Corporation [NZX: PGC], which manages Torchlight and has a substantial stake in the fund, said the court had ruled in its favour.

Mr Kerr is managing director of PGC and owns most of its shares.

“Torchlight’s position was always very clear. It paid back the loan it received from Wilaci in full and it was prepared to pay a reasonable level of interest resulting from the late repayment,” said Mr Kerr.

“It was not prepared to pay unreasonable terms. The High Court ruling confirms that with its finding that the ‘late payment fee’ claimed by Wilaci is a ‘penalty fee’. Torchlight brought this action believing the penalty fee claimed by Wilaci was unenforceable and the Court has agreed.

“We had already agreed, prior to trial, to pay the original $5m establishment fee which has already been accrued by Torchlight.

“We welcome this ruling in its favour, which confirms that Torchlight’s position was reasonable. This matter can now be put to rest.”

Hearings took place at the High Court in Auckland in August.

PGC shares are currently suspended for its failure to file an annual report by September 30.

Read the judgment here

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Tim Hunter
Tue, 20 Oct 2015
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Kerr claims court win over $A37m Torchlight loan