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TTP keeps mum on court case

By Chris Hutching

Friday 28th March 2003

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Trans Tasman Properties executive director Rod Hodge said yesterday that the company was unlikely to issue a disclosure notice to the Stock Exchange about a pending High Court case in which a minority shareholder is trying to force majority shareholder SEA Holdings to buy him out.

As initially revealed in The National Business Review (Feb 21), John Powell and his company Latimer Holdings hold 3% of TTP and are plaintiffs in the action against TTP and SEA Holdings, which are first and second defendants.

"We've taken legal advice, which is essentially that it all came out in your article. So it's out there anyway. Our position is that it's a matter between shareholders and it's not appropriate for Trans Tasman to comment," Mr Hodge said.

"Our involvement in the proceedings will be restricted to correcting any information we see as incorrect and opposing any remedies we think are not in the interests of all shareholders."

Meanwhile, Mr Powell hopes more minority shareholders will join with him in seeking a court order forcing SEA Holdings, 54% shareholder and effective controller of TTP since 1995, to buy out the minority shareholders at the asset backing of 55c a share (the current share price is 25c a share).

His suit contends that in the circumstances the affairs of TTP have been conducted in a manner oppressive to minorities because he wants to sell but is unable to obtain fair value and meantime has no expectation of dividends and will continue to have the value of his shares diluted through the management contract.

At the annual meeting of TTP in May 2002 some shareholders wanted to liquidate the company and might have received 59c a share at that time but the proposal was defeated by SEA.

A proposal at the annual meeting on February 11, 2003 to appoint directors not associated with SEA and to publicly tender the management rights was similarly defeated.

TTP recently reported a net loss of $1.3 million in the year to December, an improvement on its $3.9 million loss in 2001 after selling $187 million worth of property in the year to repay bank debt which now stands at $338.9 million.

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