Bank had no regard for pankaj and radhika oswals interests court told

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THE ANZ bank and receivers disregarded Indian couple Pankaj and Radhika Oswal’s interests when selling their stake in the Australian fertiliser business they founded, a court has heard.

The Oswals are seeking at least $1.5 billion and up to $2.5 billion in damages from the bank and the receivers it appointed to the Burrup business, which operated an ammonia manufacturing plant in Western Australia.

Mr Oswals barrister Tony Bannon SC said from early on the bank was simply interested in getting the debt the Oswals owed covered in the sale of the couples stake and receivers PPB Advisory were compliant in that process.

Throughout the process the receivers and the bank were not paying regard to the Oswals interests, Mr Bannon told the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday.

They were paying regard to a primary purpose of clearing the debt. Mr Bannon said the receivers and ANZ embarked on a flawed process for selling the Oswals 65 per cent stake in parent company Burrup Holdings.

He said they did not do the one thing that would cause competitive tension in the bidding process, which was to offer all three parts for sale: the Oswals stake, all shares in Burrup Fertilisers and its assets.

He said that was done partly to appease Yara Australia, which held 35 per cent of Burrup Holdings and had pre-emptive rights over the remaining shares.

He said the process meant there was effectively only one bidder, Apache Fertilisers.

Yara ended up lifting its Burrup Holdings stake to 51 per cent and Apache 49 per cent in January 2012.

We say they undersold and didnt pay regard to the Oswals interests, Mr Bannon said.

Mr Bannon said there was plenty of money coming in from the Burrup ammonia manufacturing plant, which was highly efficient.

The Oswals left Australia in December 2010, a few days before receivers were appointed, but have returned from Dubai for the court case.

The complex civil case, which involves a number of claims and counterclaims, is expected to run for up to six months.