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Clear Grain Exchange founders seek A$41 mln in counterclaim against NZX

Friday 23rd December 2011

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The founders of NZX’s Clear Grain Exchange business in Australia have filed a counterclaim against the stock exchange operator amounting to A$41 million.

Clear’s former owners Grant Thomas and Dominic Pym, and their companies Ralec Commodities and Ralec Interactive, have fallen out with NZX, which acquired the commodities trading platform for A$6.9 million in October 2009 on the basis of what it now calls “wildly inaccurate” forecasts.

NZX said the counterclaim from Thomas and Pym is more than double the amounts typically cited in media reports of as much as A$17 million.

NZX claims it was misled by the pair and last month won a bid to pursue compensation from Thomas and Pym in the New Zealand courts after they tried to get the jurisdiction shifted to Victoria, Australia. The pair had filed their defence by the due date yesterday.

“NZX does not consider that these latest sums, or the claims they represent, have any more legitimacy than earlier amounts indicated by Ralec shareholders via the media,” the Wellington-based company said in a statement. “NZX has not determined the extent of its damages claim at this time.”

In August, NZX cut its forecast for earnings at Clear to a range of $1.5 million to $1.8 million, from the $2.25 million estimate it gave investors at a briefing in March and said reported grain volumes in the second quarter had been “weak.”

NZX shares last traded at $2.36 and have surged 50 percent this year. The stock is rated ‘outperform’ based on a Reuters survey of three analysts.

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