Business Irish

Sunday 25 March 2018

Kentech shareholder settles row with fellow directors

Tim Healy

A BITTER dispute between some directors and shareholders of the giant Kentech group was settled yesterday at the Commercial Court.

Kentech employs 2,800 people here and worldwide in providing engineering and other services.

John Murphy, a director with a shareholding of more than 20pc, brought proceedings against four other directors: Michael Francis Kent, founder of the company; Sarah Kent, CEO since 2008, John Kent and John Gilley. Josar Holdings Ltd is the holding company in the Kentech group with registered offices at Little Island, Co Cork.

The case was due to open before Mr Justice Peter Charleton on Wednesday but was adjourned for talks.

Yesterday, Frank Callanan, counsel for Mr Murphy, told the judge the case had been settled and could be struck out.

The judge was also told by Maurice Collins, for the defendants, that the matter would only be re-entered in the event of non-payment related to the settlement.

Mr Murphy had alleged the affairs of Josar Holdings and the powers of some directors were being conducted in an unfair, oppressive and unlawful manner, contrary to the Companies Acts.

He claimed his employment with the company was terminated in March 2011 in breach of a shareholders' agreement.

He also sought orders from the court for the purchase of his shares.

In an affidavit, Mr Murphy, of Coach Hill, Rochestown, Co Cork, made a series of claims about the operation of the company including an allegation that Ms Kent conceived the termination of his employment in March 2011 as a "coercive negotiating tactic" aimed at achieving his elimination as a shareholder and to prevail upon him to sell his shares at an undervalued price.

Mr Murphy, who has been involved with the group since it was founded in 1994 by Michael Francis Kent, also said he believes the allegedly "perilous state of finances" of the Kent family and their own personal financial interests were taking precedence over the interests of the company.

Ms Kent, in a replying affidavit, denied the claims.

She accepted a property development of John Kent and Michael Francis Kent, known as the Marlfield project, failed in 2008 with a significant sum owed to Bank of Ireland, but she said that debt was "entirely unrelated" to the company.

She rejected the claim the affairs of the company were being run unfairly or oppressively and denied the various claims by Mr Murphy concerning his treatment and employment.

Ms Kent said she, and a non-executive director, John Buckley, began a review in late 2009 of compensation packages and employment agreements related to senior people at the group.

Irish Independent

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