DERMOT DESMOND investment vehicle Bottin International is seeking to recover up to ?15m from a UK fleet management company claiming that it was given false and inaccurate information at the time of investing in the company.
Bottin is the largest single investor in Venson, which manages the 3,500 strong fleet of the London Metropolitan Police. The Desmond company invested £10m in the company in December 1999 when purchasing one million preference shares but says that profit projections given to them at the time were false.
John Bateson, Bottin executive and long time Desmond adviser, said in a sworn statement that he valued Venson on the basis of a company profit projection of up to £1m for the financial year 1999. The company ended up losing £2.2m in the same period.
Bottin has launched proceedings against Venson in the London High Court, seeking the recovery of its entire investment in the company.
It is also seeking to enforce warranties given by Venson directors, Grant Scriven and Clive Lawson Smith, and which carry personal liabilities of £750,00 and £450,000 respectively.
At a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Judge Peter Smith said that parts of the Bottin case were 'weak' and referred to Bottin's "casual" approach to the proceedings.
However, he failed to agree to an application from Scriven and Lawson Smith's barrister to strike out the case. He did rule however that the claims against the two directors personally had not been properly 'served on' or delivered to them.
Venson sold its Irish corporate car fleet management business to Bank of Ireland in 2001. It retains a presence here however targetting the public sector. It manages the RTE vehicle fleet.