A fight has erupted for control and ownership of online reseller E-Store, with a total of 14 matters currently before the Supreme Court of Australia in relation to the dispute.
The control and ownership dispute started when administrator Star Dean-Wilcox called for expressions of interest to buy the online business. E-Store has been trading with the consent of creditors since November under a deed-of-company agreement, headed up by managing director Steven Spilly.
A US-based organisation called World Callnet Inc (WCI), run by Australian Gerard Farley, put forth a bid to acquire the pure-play e-tailer. An in-principle agreement was reached between Farley and Spilly, in which the former would also become a director of E-Store.
According to Spilly, he signed the agreement based on details presented to him, which he claims have since proven false.
"WCI has not finalised any transaction with E-Store because it has not met with the approval of the deed administrator or myself," Spilly said. "It [the acquisition of E-Store by WCI] is not going ahead. I was of the impression that such a transaction had been approved by the shareholders but it has recently come to light that it hasn't."
On the other hand, while Farley agreed there is some dispute in regards to the acquisition, he claims he is entitled to a share of ownership and control of the company and that there is now an attempt to cut him out of the business because its future looks rosier.
"It hasn't all been resolved yet [how the WCI acquisition and his role will work]," he said. "But the company is now doing really well since we saved it."
With last year's crippling fulfilment and supply issues now settled, the e-tailer had been preparing to embark on a clicks-and-bricks strategy after acquiring the prime Laptop Land site in North Sydney as its new headquarters and retail showcase.
A planned May 1 opening of the new E-Store headquarters at the North Sydney premises has been put back indefinitely as the battle for control of the company is played out. The new location was intended to serve as a product and Web site showcase as well as the company's administration centre.
For the full details read this week's issue of ARN (May 1), out now.