Macquarie Marine Services Dealt Second Blow in Efforts to Pressure Harley Franco to Cede Control of Harley Marine Services
Washington Court invalidates MMS’ actions to remove CEO | MMS earlier withdrew lawsuit
SEATTLE – Today, a Seattle court handed Macquarie Marine Services (MMS), a minority investor in Washington-based Harley Marine Services (HMS), a second setback in its efforts to wrestle control of HMS from its founder, Harley Franco.
Earlier this week, the Australian-based MMS filed a lawsuit claiming a litany of financial improprieties, each of which were soundly refuted in court pleadings, said HMS attorney Robert Sulkin.
Today, the King County Superior Court in Seattle thwarted a second effort by MMS to depose CEO Franco through what Sulkin characterized as a flawed effort by Macquarie to stage a coup through unilateral board action. The Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order finding the purported board actions to be without legal effect, and holding that until further orders, Mr. Franco remains CEO of the company.
According to Franco, issues began when minority owner MMS began pressuring him to sell HMS. “While I was interested in building a hundred-year company, they were only interested in making a fast buck,” Franco said. “They forcefully continued with their efforts, despite knowing that our investor agreement didn’t give them the power to force a sale.”
“They gave me an ultimatum – agree to a sale or face the consequences. I told them, again, I would not sell HMS,” he added.
Franco said that MSS then, in an obvious move to embarrass him, filed a suit in Delaware filled with half-truths and innuendo, claiming financial improprieties at HMS.
According to Sulkin, his team filed a response to the complaint that addressed each claim put forth by MMS and offered detailed explanations for each of the allegations.
“In our answer to the claim, we demonstrated that MMS was relying on half-truth and innuendo to construct a narrative to suit its ends, without regard to fairness or truth,” Sulkin said. “It comes as no surprise to us that shortly after reading our response, MMS withdrew its own complaint.”
“While I am no stranger to the hardscrabble world of business, I take personal offense to the nature of the wild, unsubstantiated allegations MMS has leveled against me, the HMS team and my family,” Franco declared. “I’ve spent my career building a company worthy of the admiration it has received, and I will fight to keep it.”