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'Nil-all draw' in NZX vs Ralec verdict

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/11/2016 Sophie Boot

Neither Ralec nor NZX will get a payout from their seven-year High Court dispute, with Justice Robert Dobson ruling that both sides' claims were valid but neither could demonstrate a financial impact if things had been different.

The case was heard at the High Court in Wellington from May 2 to July 13 this year.

The stock market operator claimed Clear's former owners, Grant Thomas and Dominic Pym, and their companies Ralec Commodities and Ralec Interactive misled NZX with "wildly inaccurate" forecasts when it bought the commodities trading platform for $A7 million in October 2009, with two earn-outs of $A7 million tied to performance.

NZX had quantified reliance loss at $13.76 million, and an expectation measure of loss between $33.5 million and $44.2 million.

Ralec made a counterclaim of $A14 million, saying NZX and former chief Mark Weldon under-funded the business which meant it couldn't meet the targets which would trigger those payments.

On Wednesday, Justice Dobson said NZX had made out four of five alleged misrepresentation claims against Ralec but found no compensation was owed because NZX couldn't demonstrate losses from relying on those misrepresentations.

Ralec was successful in its claim NZX hadn't met its contractual obligations for resourcing, but wasn't awarded damages as it hadn't shown better resourcing would have meant it could reach the earn-out targets.

The Australian company's counterclaim against Mark Weldon, the former NZX chief executive who gave evidence for a week at the trial, wasn't successful. Ralec had claimed Weldon had either being knowingly involved or aided and abetted the making of representations which contravened the Fair Trading Act.

The judge said costs should lie where they fall as "the overall outcome is a nil-all draw".

Trading in NZX shares was halted earlier on Wednesday, though the stock market operator has yet to make a statement to the exchange.

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