Wednesday, 04 May 2011 15:02David Boyle and Soeun Say
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued an injunction barring the sale of FCC Group assets in an ongoing dispute over ownership.
The group controls several of Cambodia’s landmark restaurants and hotels, such as the FCC Phnom Penh and Siem Reap hotels and restaurants, Pacharan and Chow, but two separate parties have disputed ownership of several of its assets.
In the interim injunction handed down on April 22, the court ruled that Anthony Mark Ashall, Chairman of the Board of Food and Beverage Solutions Co, which runs the FCC’s day-to-day operations, would be prevented from selling or transferring assets from four of the group’s companies.
But the text of the interim injunction says it can still be challenged by the defendant before it will be enforced.
The injunction cited plaintiff and former executive chairman of FCC parent company Indochina Assets Limited Steve Hayward’s allegations that Ashall had broken the terms of two agreements made to buy out Hayward’s position in the firm.
“They’ve given an injunction so I can protect my interest in the company,” Hayward told The Post yesterday.
“So it’s quite serious, and the court has made an interim injunction.”
He claimed Ashall had reneged on an agreement to transfer ownership of the Quay Hotel and Pacharan restaurant to him, or hand over the cash value equivalent, in exchange for his departure from the FCC group.
He warned if Ashall continued not to honour their agreements, other factors could come into play including potentially placing the company in receivership under Hayward’s control.
“Arguably I’m going to be back as the director here or the court will appoint me as an administrator of all the companies,” he said.
The interim injunction said that it was freezing a possible sale “in order to protect the real and certain possibility of risk mentioned above and of loss to his [Hayward’s] interests in the future”.
However, Ashall’s advisor Matthew Rendall, a partner at the law firm Sciaroni and Associates, yesterday denied that an agreement to transfer properties existed with Hayward and claimed he was instead attempting to drive up offers to buy out his stake.
“There was an offer made by our client, we understand there was a dispute over the price, Steve has now rejected that offer,” he said.
“It’s an abuse of the court process to force FCC shareholders to give Steve [Hayward] a better offer for his shares.”
He said his client would certainly appeal the interim injunction, which contained legal flaws.
This is not the first public dispute between the two. Last year, contradictory claims about the dismissal of one company official were posted in newspapers by both Ashall and Hayward.