Court throws out Palmer suit

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The NSW Supreme Court has thrown out an application by Gladstone Pacific Nickel shareholder Robert Pearce to sue mining billionaire Clive Palmer.

Last month Pearce claimed Palmer had hijacked a deal between GPN and BHP Billiton over the Yabulu nickel refinery.

Pearce alleged Palmer used his position on the GPN board to negotiate the sale of Yabulu for himself.

Palmer was a director of GPN in June 2009 when the company was negotiating with BHP for the refinery.

After talks between the companies failed Palmer bought the project himself for less than $10 million.

Yabulu then went on to deliver a $1.1 billion profit in its first year after a spike in nickel prices.

Pearce, a minority shareholder in GPN, wanted the company to share in the profits.

But Justice Michael Ball ruled that based on the evidence it appeared Palmer had decided only to acquire Yabulu if the GPN bid failed.

He said GPN was “largely a dormant company” and a legal battle with Palmer would not be in its best interests.

Justice Ball said there was “no real prospect” GPN could have acquired Yabulu.

He said BHP wanted to deal with Palmer over the deal, and was only prepared to talk to GPN because Palmer was its majority shareholder.

“This is not a case where Mr Palmer learnt of the sale or was able to deal with BHP in relation to it because of his directorship of GPN,” he said.

“In fact, there reverse is the case. The evidence clearly suggests that BHP wanted to deal with Palmer.”

Image: The Age — Glen Hunt

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