A well-known Canterbury stud will be allowed another chance at life after a drawn-out legal fight.
Te Mania Aberdeen Angus Stud, stud cattle breeder, was established in 1928 by Edwin Wilding. His family has been involved ever since.
But in 1997, the stud was sold into a company called Te Mania Livestock (TML), and the family had to work with shareholders from outside the family for the first time. Third-generation Tim Wilding took a 40 per cent stake.
His son, William, is the stock manager.
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Over time, personal and business relationships deteriorated to the point the operation was no longer viable.
The court was asked to consider whether TML should be liquidated or whether Wilding should have the opportunity to buy the other shareholders’ shares.
The others wanted the court to set the price, if he was to be allowed to do so.
One of the shareholders, John Harrington, who held management roles at Te Mania, wanted to be able to buy Wilding’s shares but later abandoned that position.
High Court Justice Nicholas Davidson said the farm was being run in an atmosphere of elevated distrust and recrimination.
“TML cannot go on in its present structure, and all parties seek an end to that.”
The civil trial to determine its future started last year and ran into this year.
Davidson said while all the shareholders were able and well-intentioned, their different aspirations and a breakdown in personal relationships meant they should have parted ways years ago.
But they stuck together even as tensions heightened.
There were arguments about the Wilding family using TML money, and the trial was told of claims of stock mistreatment, malicious prosecution over missing hay, email hacking and abuse of process. Harrington even claimed at one point that an attempt had been made on his life. This was discounted.
Davidson said liquidation of the company should be a last resort.
“The Court concluded it was in the interest of all parties, including creditors, that Timothy Wilding be given the opportunity to purchase the shares of those shareholders who wish to exit their investment, at a fair price fixed by the court.
“Mr Wilding has given the Court an assurance that he will be able to find the money required to complete a share purchase, and promptly. Without that he would not be given the opportunity.”