Category Archives: Succession Wars

dysfunctional family business

Motivated

I was driving into the office today. Given it’s a 50km trip each way, I usually either listen to a talk on tape (or CD) or I drive and think in silence. I actually like the thinking time.

I was pondering why I’m struggling with myself to get to the office. Sure a 100km communte is no fun. But is that all? Our cashflow isn’t great at the moment, but that is a chicken and egg thing. If I don’t drive the business it wont grow by itself.

Then it occurred to me. My warehouse is located so far away because my father located it when he controlled the group. I now have a new business unrelated to any of that history. But I still had the remnants of the old business when I located it conveniently for the support staff.

Support staff who did not survive the transition from old, direct sales to modern, customer focus, e-tail. And the rent is 50% cheaper than anything closer to home.

Subconsciously the drive reminds me of the succession wars. While they are settled (some paperwork to finalise still), the emotions run strong. No wonder I don’t look forward to the drive.

I had contempt for CEO’s who relocate their corporate headquarters immediately after taking over – a tremendous waste of shareholders’ money. Now it is a also catalyst for change. Relocating allows a business to create a new image, future and destiny. Or it could still be a monstorous waste. 😉

Entrepreneurial companies must be faster and more aggressive than their competitors. Entrepreneurs maintain massive action to reach their goals and the working environment is strong influencer.

My lease is up in October, so I have some planning to do.

Settling the succession wars

How strange! I haven’t posted since September. I feel guilty and rusty. I am not living my life in a small public spotlight.

I’ve been depressed by the succession wars and blogging just hasn’t been inspirational. That’s interesting as I think I write best when I am not at my emotional best.

Anyway, it looks like the legal battles may be settled. A few administrative things to take care of and I should cease defending five or six legal actions. Aren’t families fun?

If that happens I won’t have to worry about telegraphing moves. Sure I’ll have to worry about confidentiality clauses but that will mean I’ll be able to return to my regularly scheduled ponderings.

Legal Update

The wheels of justice keep turning. The settlement deed the other side prepared just sucked.

They told me it was totally not-negotiable so don’t bother getting legal advice just sign it. Yeah right. So my lawyers said don’t sign it.

So while the settlement negotiations fall apart we have mentions and orders on some of the legal fronts.

Actually I feel re-energised for the fight. Scary thought.

For the record most of this months entries were deliberately not published. I don’t need to
1) Telegraph my every move
2) Get sued further
😉

Settlement Negotiations 4

Seems like they wanted me to sweat the weekend. Strangely I didn’t. I figured we were going to court, I’d tried to settle, agreeing to their demands and asking for time to pay. If they rejected it I’d see them in court and roll the dice.

This morning they called with a counter offer requesting interest on the unpaid balance. Once I triple checked their and my math I agreed. So we seem to have a settlement. Now we just need to draw up the deed. That should be interesting given how one-sided their Head of Agreement was.

Hopefully they’ll play it fairly straight. But I won’t believe it until the deed is signed.

Settlement Negotiations 3

I got an email from The Wicked Stepmother last night seems like she hadn’t received anything back from me or the go-between. Turns out the go-between hadn’t been to his office for the last few days and hadn’t got my email. Oh well.

So I replied to her email and spoke to the go-between. (Aside: aren’t all these codenames tricky?). Then I called my lawyers and got some general tactical advice. The summary of which was offer what you can.

So I offered them what I could. All the non-monetary things they wanted, 1/3 of their cash settlement offer now and another 1/3 in 12 months. I told them I would enter a multi-year deal and I was offering all I could over 12 months (2/3 of their claim). They said they wouldn’t wait for 5 years either.

They wanted 100% of the cash. I was afraid they’d take that position. I said “I’ll give you the other 1/3 after another 12 months but that was all I had and wouldn’t threaten the company by committing to a outlay that wasn’t viable”. They’d get back to me.

A while later I got a call, they wanted 100% paid 1/3 now and 2/3 in equal weekly installments over 40 weeks. They tried to play the emotional line about building a company from nothing over 20years to get nothing. I thought the $1Million they’d got so far wasn’t really nothing, but didn’t mention it. Instead I told her I’d call her back once I looked at the cashflow implications of their demands.

I called the lawyer, who said to stick to the message. I called the go-between who said stick to the message.

Then I got angry. No way the company can pay that sort of weekly drain. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place. Aside from the cash I am giving up a few valuable assets including a 50% shareholding in their childcare centre and current business. So I called them back and told her that. She said 50% of nothing is nothing. I stuck to my message about responsible spending and that is all I have.

She didn’t believe me, and we’d probably end up in court.

I repeated the message I don’t want to spend a fortune in court, I do want to settle this and am offering them 100% of what they want. I am giving them 100% of what I can conceivably give. If they don’t want it then at least I tried. She said they’d let me know.

Settlement Negotiations 2

Got the Heads of Agreement for the settlement today. It is a one-sided document prepared by the other side’s lawyers. In it I promise to do six things and they promise nothing – including no mention of ceasing all actions.

Oh well that’s what happens when the other side prepares the documents. Obviously I wont sign it. At this stage I’m not sure I can pay them all the money they want anyway. So I’m trying to figure out how much they will take and what’s the most I can afford to give them.

Settlement Negotiations

The AVO hearing in the Succession Wars was this morning. Last week I sent an emissary to try yet another settlement – I asked to find out what they want.. This time we got results.

The Geezer and The Wicked Step-Mother told us what they want to go away. Now I need to decide if giving them what they want hurts less than continuing the fight. Basically I give them a wad of cash and some non-monetary things (like control of some companies and products).

There is nothing absolutely objectionable about the non-monetary side of the offer. So now it’s a matter of working out how to give them that stuff without incurring large expense or liabilities. The monetary settlement is trickier. Obviously I can’t go into the level of detail I’d like. It is really tempting to do an exact breakdown.

The way the deal was put to me was “here is an offer, pay them $X and give them this stuff, in return all actions cease”. I took all actions to include the AVO complaint as well as their actions against me. If we settle the dispute I don’t need to fear the Geezer attacking me out of frustration with legal battles. In the spirit of give and take I withdrew the AVO application.

Credit where it’s due, the Geezer checked with me if I would be upset if he pursued a costs claim against the Police. While it is unlikely the Police would make me pay a costs order against them, they would not be well-disposed to me if they lost a costs order. I reminded the other side that we are trying to harmoniously resolve the dispute and upsetting my reputation with the Police was not good. I told them I’d appreciate it if they didn’t pursue costs. They didn’t pursue costs and the Magistrate congratulated us on being able to resolve some of our disputes.

Anyway I thought some of you would like to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. At least it seems like it.

AVO

The police applied for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) after I was assaulted last year. So far the Geezer’s lawyers have argued it is not a “real” application, but a tactic of the succession wars. So far the Magistrate has allowed the Geezer to give undertakings not to contact me without lawyers. That lacks the strength of an AVO.

After the assault matter was heard (he pled guilty, no conviction recorded) a date was set to hear the AVO application.Next week we’re in court. I don’t think the Magistrate will grant the application – the Geezer has stuck to the letter of his undertakings – so why go through with the application? I prefer to focus on the fights I can win. If an order is not made the Geezer will probably feel he “won” that fight.

On the other hand the AVO complaint is because there are fears that the Geezer ”may physically hurt, or harass, intimidate, or molest or stalk” me. My staff hate me working late alone. My family get nervous about threats that have been made against me. I know the Geezer would go for round 2 if there were no witnesses around.

But do I want to go through the pain of proving on the balance of probabilities that I fear the Geezer and those fears are reasonable.

The most annoying thing about the matter is that AVO’s were created for circumstances like these. They should be almost automatic. But a good lawyer can make voodoo happen. That reminds me that I saw Chicago (with Rene Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere) on Monday night.

Get a lawyer son

I was in court on Friday for the Geezer’s assault on me. The staff who were witnesses were also subpoenaed to appear.

He denied punching me or hitting me with an office chair, but admitted only pushing and shoving me.

However they argued he was a fine citizen an a pillar of the community. They handed up references to support that claim.

His lawyer claimed he lost control of his company after 20 successful years through some machiavelian means. His laywer also said I took control of the company when he suffered a debilitating stroke two years ago.

Successful company? Please explain the three company liquidations since 1995.

The stroke was news to me and his siblings. It’s a pretty amazing recovery to assault me 12 months later and stand in court unaided after 2 years.

Anyway, he deeply regretted losing his cool and pled guilty to common assault.

The court accepted the guilty plea, did not record a conviction and put him on a six month good behaviour bond. A great result for him and I’m actually very happy as well. So win-win for all. 😉

Then we dealt with my request for an Apprehended Violence Order. They didn’t want a bar of it and offered to extend their undertaking to not contact me without our lawyers being present. After some discussion we’re in court in February next year on the AVO. In the meantime his undertaking is part of his bond.

The next round is over 10 years of long service leave he and The Wicked Step-Mother claim I owe them.

But it goes to show that if you ever get into trouble with the police, You better get a lawyer, son, you better get a real good one.