Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) is set to appeal a Norwegian court ruling ordering it to hand over 3.4 million shares to a company owned by a television presenter.
Hallvard Flatland, one of the most famous faces on Norwegian TV screens, claimed that he had been promised a stake in GiG in exchange for carrying out work on behalf of the operator. It was also alleged that Flatland had been promised a role on the board of directors.
GiG board member Helge Nielsen responded to the ruling by telling the Dagens Næringsliv news service: “We are very surprised. I can only see that we are going to appeal this case.”
Flatland alleged that an oral agreement was reached with a GiG board member at a meeting in April 2015.
The only written evidence put forward to support Flatland’s claims was from the TV personality’s notebook from the meeting. The company’s lawyer, Rustan Knudsen, insisted there was a “lack of evidence” in the case.
However, the Bergen District Court (pictured) ordered GiG to transfer the shares – worth around NOK8.5m (£790,000/€880,000/$990,000) in today’s value – to Flatland’s Euro TV company within two weeks. Reports from the court also said that GiG would have to pay costs of NOK500,000.
GiG’s share price on the Oslo Stock Exchange fell by nearly 5% in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, but soon recovered. The company has always maintained that whilst talks with Flatland did take place, no agreement was reached.
In its judgement, the court said that Flatland had “reasonable grounds” to believe the agreement had come into force on April 30, as “GIG's actions and omissions had created a legitimate expectation of that from Flatland's side”.
The company said in a statement released to investors: “GiG disagrees with the court's ruling and will now assess whether to appeal the judgement together with its legal advisers.”
In its annual report for 2017, GiG revealed that it had “challenged whether Norwegian courts have jurisdiction to rule on this matter”. No allowance for a possible defeat in the case had been made by GiG in its accounts as of December 31 last year.
Flatland told the court in October that he had expected to play a “John Carew” role at GiG, focusing on the company’s services in Norway. Carew is a retired Norwegian national team footballer.
Following the judgement, he insisted that the case should never have reached court.
“It was not the money that was the most important thing for me in this case,” he said. “The point is that I do not like it when people do not stand by agreements they have entered into.
“They could have just phoned me so we could find a solution that satisfied us both. It’s just nonsense that it ended up in court.”
Picture credit: Wolfmann