Belgian multi-millionaire fined €266 million following legal dispute

Belgian multi-millionaire fined €266 million following legal dispute
Marc Coucke © Belga

Belgian businessman Mark Coucke and the consortium around investment fund Waterland, have been ordered to pay €266 million to pharmaceuticals company Perrigo in a dispute concerning the takeover of Omega Pharma.

Omega Pharma was a company created by Coucke in 1987, selling generic pharmaceuticals and para-pharma products, including a nasal spray made of purified seawater.

Thanks to the company's success, Coucke's personal wealth grew to more than €1 billion although his current value has reduced owing to some less fruitful investments, such as the 2008 Chip phone which, to put it bluntly, did not work.

In 2015 Coucke sold his founding business, Omega Pharma, to Perrigo for €3.8 billion. The sale took place on behalf of what had by then become a consortium of Coucke himself and the investment group Waterland.

Shortly after the takeover, Perrigo began to accuse the sellers - Arychlo of Marc Coucke and Holdco, the other shareholder - of misrepresentation, of having falsified the company’s figures to make it appear more attractive than it was by disguising its debt position.

Coucke tossed the blame back on Perrigo. "It's like buying a car, driving it into a wall and then going back to the seller and demanding your money back," he said in a comment at the time.

Perrigo had originally made a claim for €1.9 billion, exactly half the price paid to take over Omega Pharma.

At the time of purchase, Coucke & Co placed €248 million in an escrow account to cover any dispute that may come up. Coucke himself also lodged a counter-claim against Perrigo for an undisclosed sum, claiming the company did not act in good faith in the transaction.

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