Sealab Ocean Group’s trustee: “It does not appear that the company has received anything related to that transaction”

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EUR 0.3 million in debt and a near-bottomed out overdraft sent Sealab Ocean Group (SOG) to bankruptcy.

On Wednesday, SalmonBusiness reported that the Trondheim-based technology company Sealab Ocean Group (SOG) had filed for bankruptcy. John Aksel Stav, managing director and partner at Bjerk Stav law firm has been given the trustee job.

The somewhat limited overview Stav has so far been prepared shows that there are very modest values in SOG – even after the sale of the two subsidiaries Sealab and Sensomar for EUR 9.5 million.

“In the balance sheet as of September is (the subsidiary) Sealab AS, so it is not correct. But the reality is a debt of four million kroner (EUR 0.3 million .ed) and zero assets. 60,000 kroner (EUR 5,400 .ed) in account. This means that the company has not received anything from the transactions that have occurred in the subsidiaries,” John Aksel Stav told SalmonBusiness.

Payment
“The bakrupted company does not own the subsidiaries, and it does not appear that the company has received anything related from that transaction now at least. I don’t know if payment has been agreed, but it’s obviously one of the things I have to look at,” said Stav, before adding: “And it’s not special for this case – all transactions made shortly before a bankruptcy opening it’s natural to look at”.

Lawyer John Aksel Stav is a partner and general manager of Bjerkan Stav law firm. Photo: Bjerkan Stav

“I have no reason to believe that something unlawful has happened here, but this needs to be checked,” he said.

“There are no employees of the company, not any tenancy. For so long, it becomes the essence of the bankruptcy process: to clarify what has happened to what seemed to be a value in the company. And then, of course, I have to look at what has happened. You do that in any bankruptcy estate,” Stav explained.

Creditors
“I have realised, by reading in the media and talking to several parties, that there are several who believe something has happened that is not okay, and that gives me a reason to look at it. But we’re so early in the process that I haven’t had time to look at it yet.

“My focus is to see if it is something the company should have been paid for. My job is to bring in any money that the company should have, and distribute these to the creditors – in addition to seeing if the laws and regulations that apply to running a limited company have been followed,” said Stav.

Stav will use the time ahead to thoroughly investigate the matter.

“I will meet next week with the management, and I will know more,” he said.

Surprised
Milan Markovic, who through the company Slottvarden is the founder and largest shareholder in SOG, is not happy with how the company has been run recently.

“First of all, we are surprised that Chairman Ståle Spjøtvold did not keep us informed of the board’s decision in such an important issue like this. As usual, we are excluded from all decisions – despite being the largest shareholder in the company. At random today we received a call from a third party who had noticed that a bankruptcy had been filed yesterday,” Markovic told SalmonBusiness.

“We asked many questions about the process led by Chairman Spjøtvold. The Corporations Act contains a number of special rules that place comprehensive and detailed requirements on the information that the Board shall provide to the general meeting, the individual shareholder, employees, and others affected by such decisions, not least the transaction of the subsidiaries Sealab AS and Sensomar AS. These were, as is known, transferred for zero kroner to CageEye in August this year. Chairman Spjøtvold confirmed at the annual general meeting on 7 September that he made no valuation as required by law, neither by the buyer nor the two subsidiaries he sold. Here too we were kept completely out of the way,” continued Markovic.

“I’m being kicked out as chairman,” said Markovic. PHOTO: Trine Forsland

Trust
“Trust is a keyword in relation to the duty of loyalty. The board must have confidence behind it and the decisions that are made. Abuse of authority removes this trust, which can create a devastating situation for shareholders and creditors,” said Markovic.

“I am convinced that the incumbent board has made all the cardinal mistakes that are possible in its handling of both the parent company and the aforementioned sale of the subsidiaries,” he said.

Ståle Spjøtvold did not wish to comment on the daily bankruptcy petition.

“All inquiry into the matter is to be requested by the trustee John Aksel Stav,” he wrote in an email to SalmonBusiness.