Georgia Derrick, daughter of media pioneer the late Winston Derrick, has cautioned prospective buyers about the recently announced share-purchase opportunity for Observer Radio and The Daily Observer.
Just minutes ago, the younger Derrick’s posted on Facebook, “ANTIGUA – do not give your money to Observer Media Group!”
Her stark warning comes a day after Observer’s Chief Operating Officer Darren Derrick said, “The estate of the late Samuel “Fergie” Derrick wishes to announce the private offer for sale of the majority of its shares in The Daily Observer Ltd. and Observer Radio Ltd. This private placement is for 45,000 shares in each company, which represents 45% of all issued shares in the companies.”
The shares will be twinned, one share in the paper and one in the paper, for USD $100.
Georgia Derrick contests this assertion, however, saying, “This is fraudulent behaviour as they do not have the authorization and there is no proof of the value of the company. You will likely lose your money.”
The estates of Winston and “Fergie” Derrick have been in dispute over control of the company since Winston’s passing in 2013, 10 years after the death of his brother and business partner, Fergie.
Immediately following Winston’s passing, Fergie’s family challenged the majority interest and subsequently excluded Winston’s widow from any decision-making.
In 2016, the High Court ruled that Kim Derrick, widow of the late Winston Derrick is the majority shareholder. There was, however, not a clear ruling regarding the subsidiary companies, and this remains the subject of litigation.
The brothers started the company as equal partners and reportedly had an understanding that whoever lived longer would become 51% majority shareholder in perpetuity.
After mediation failed, the matter, Kim Derrick v. Observer Publications, went to the court for adjudication.
Antigua Newsroom also reached out to Kim Derrick who expressed that she had no prior knowledge of the company’s intent to provide a public share offering and that she, “found out just like everyone else… on the radio.”
The widow also expressed a concern over the timing of the offering as it comes just three days before a court-mandated shareholders’ meeting scheduled to take place on Friday 26, January.
This shareholders meeting, Kim Derrick asserts, would have been, “the first one we’ve had since Winston passed.”
The sale announcement is not accompanied by a prospectus or any details of the company, and although the offer notes that 25% of the proceeds will be used to offset debt, the debt stock has not been detailed.
Darren Derrick, making the rounds on Observer, has pitched the sale as the chance for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda to contribute to free media rather than receive dividends.