Calgary Herald

Coke fights claim for $130M


George Soros and John Paulson might have to make room for the late Tony Marohn, who possibly pulled off one of the greatest financial trades ever — at an estate sale.

Marohn’s family claims it is owed a $130-million stake in Coca-cola Co. after Marohn bought an antique Palmer Union Oil Co. stock certificat­e in 2008 for a “nominal amount,” said Marohn family attorney David Margules.

Marohn traced Palmer Union Oil to Coca-cola, by way of long-forgotten companies such as Petrocarbo­n Chemicals Inc. and Taylor Wine Co., according to court documents.

Marohn died in 2010, but his family in California has taken on the legal battle with Coca-cola, saying it is entitled to about 1.8 million shares of the soft-drink maker.

But before the family buys that vacation home in Aspen, they’ll have to convince a skeptical Delaware Chancery Court judge the law is on their side.

“This is a new version of the Beverly Hillbillie­s,” Judge Leo Strine said at a Jan. 31 hearing, according to a court transcript, referring to a 1960s television comedy about a backwoods family that becomes rich by finding oil on their property.

If upheld, Marohn’s estate would become among the largest non-institutio­nal investors in Coca-cola, according to Reuters data.

“The claim of Mr. Marohn’s estate that it is entitled to millions of dollars in Coca-cola stock — based on a cancelled stock certificat­e for a long-defunct oil company purchased at an estate sale — is meritless and unfair to the company’s millions of legitimate shareholde­rs,” said a Thursday statement from CocaCola.

Bob Kerstein, who runs the scripophil­ website, which researches and sells antique stock certificat­es, said he gets lots of inquiries from people who want to redeem old certificat­es. “We get people who have blank stock certificat­es and they think they have hit the lotto.

Kerstein said he has to break the news to them they need to be on record with the company as well.

Margules, the Delaware attorney for Marohn’s estate, said he thinks he can persuade Strine that the law favours his client.

Marohn’s certificat­e was endorsed and assigned, but the transferee was left blank.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada