A feud between brothers Michael and Kevin Lagan, who control one of Ireland’s biggest construction companies Lagan Group, threatened to dissolve the family business, according to court papers published on 22 March.
A judgment issued in 2008 by the High Court in Belfast, which dealt with Michael’s attempt to have the Northern Ireland-based family business wound up, revealed details of the dispute.
The court papers, which could not be published until now because of a confidentiality order, show that the pair fell out over issues regarding succession and the restructuring of the family firm, established by their late father Peter in 1965.
In particular, according to the documents, the relationship between Michael and Kevin started deteriorating in 2006, when they agreed on a “partition” that would have given each of them exclusive control of different parts of the Lagan Group.
However, Michael later accused Kevin of reneging on the agreement and of trying to exclude him from the management of the family business.
The feud escalated when Michael said Kevin pressured him to invest £9 million of his own money in Lagan Homes, the group’s house-building division. He also accused him of acting in breach of his fiduciary duties over the acquisition of the company Welsh Slate for £31 million in 2007.
After a series of unsuccessful reconciliation attempts, Michael decided to go to court to have the business formally split in 2008.
But the two brothers managed to settle most of the issues out of court. According to the BBC, Michael took exclusive control of some units of the business, including the civil engineering and the maintenance divisions.
"We continue to work closely on areas of mutual interest while leading our individual businesses through this challenging economic climate," the pair said in a joint statement issued on 22 March.
The group has annual revenues of around £400 million (€478 million), according to Lagan Home's website.