Kuwaiti engineer in legal battle over stake in Aston Martin worth £15 million
Najeeb Al Humaidhi accused of breaking agreement over share ownership in the company
An engineer who once owned shares in luxury carmaker Aston Martin worth more than $1 billion is embroiled in a legal battle with a Kuwaiti investment manager over his remaining stake in the company.
An English court in April stopped Najeeb Al Humaidhi, a Kuwaiti, from selling any of his 785,855 shares, currently worth about £15 million ($21m), because of the dispute with Adeem Investment Holding Company.
The Kuwaiti company launched legal action in Britain over the stake owned by Mr Al Humaidhi, who once held about 20 per cent of Aston Martin’s stock. It claims he broke an agreement by transferring shares to a Jersey-based company that only he controlled.
But a judge this week told Adeem that it would be allowed to continue its legal action only if it posted a deposit of £4m to protect the businessman’s financial interests should he win the case.
Mr Al Humaidhi and three of his companies requested the deposit to cover his potential losses should Aston Martin’s volatile shares fall in price while he is unable to sell because of the court-ordered block.
Mr Al Humaidhi, a trained civil engineer, is known in Kuwaiti business circles as a member of one of the country’s oldest merchant families. Since 2018, when his stake was valued at more than $1bn, he has sold most of his shares as the company struggled.
The court was told that he was suffering financially after investing almost his entire personal wealth in Lebanon before the severe economic crisis there, and faces large losses.
The judge ordered the £4m to be posted because of concerns about a lack of current information about Adeem’s financial position. Lawyers for the company said it had substantial assets, including more than £70m in a car business in Jersey.
But the judge said its ownership structure was unclear and it had no assets in the UK. He said there were doubts that any ruling could be enforced in the UK.
The case is only the latest footnote in a troubled period for the century-old sports car maker, best known for its association with the James Bond films.
Adeem and other investors bought Aston Martin from Ford in 2007, which controlled the company for two decades before taking the company public in 2018.
Its share price nosedived after the float amid uncertainties over Brexit and a slump in the sale of luxury cars in China.
It was rescued by investors marshalled by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll in 2020, who injected cash and forged closer links with carmaker Daimler to help the company through the turbulent period.
Updated: June 4, 2021 12:35 PM