Billionaire oligarch switches from Sidley to HSF for mammoth hotel battle

Naomi Campbell’s oligarch ex Vladislav Doronin has dropped Sidley Austin for Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) for the latest round of his High Court battle with his business partners.

The Russian property tycoon is going head-to-head with business partners Omar Amanat and Adrian Zecha over control of super-luxury hotel chain Aman Resorts.

Last week (14 July), Catherine Newman QC, sitting as a High Court judge, ruled that Doronin’s takeover of the company was unlawful and reinstated 81-year old Zecha as chief executive of the company.

Doronin had instructed Sidley Austin partner Matthew Shankland to defend the case but has now turned to HSF partner Paula Hodges QC to defend two new claims launched against him by Amanat and Zecha. Hodges has turned to Brick Court Chambers heavyweight Mark Howard QC, leading One Essex Court’s David Caplan for the new proceedings .

Peak Hotels and Resorts Ltd, a company owned by Zecha and Amanat, has launched a bid to take full control of the luxury hotel brand. It alleges its fellow investors are guilty of fraud, conspiracy and breach of contract, entitling it to dissolve the shares and buy out Dorinin’s 80 per cent stake.

Amanat and Zecha are represented by Candey partners Ashkhan Candey and Andrew Dunn, who have instructed Four Stone Buildings’ John Brisby QC and Alexander Cook.

Zecha and Amanat are pursuing Peak Hotels and Resorts Group, the joint venture (JV) which they and investor Johan Eliasch set up to acquire, shares in the hotel group.

The JV has turned to Stewarts Law partner Philippa Charles. Zecha and Amanat are also suing Eliasch’s company Sherway Group Ltd.

Sherway is represented by Fountain Court Chambers’ Michael Brindle QC and 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square Stephen Brown instructed by Berwin Leighton Paisner partner Graham Shear.

In a separate claim, Zecha and Amanat have launched proceedings against Sherway and Eliasch alleging fraudulent misrepresentation. They argue that Eliasch claimed not to know Doronin except at a distance when in fact the two had hatched a conspiracy together.

In a new twist to the bitter saga, Doronin filed a lawsuit in New York on Wednesday (16 July) against amanat and Peak Venture Partners LLC claiming fraudulent conduct in connection with the acquisition of Aman.

He has turned to partners Marc Kasowitz, Paul O’Connor and James Stricker of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP in New York.

The legal line-up

For the 14 July injunction

For the claimant/applicant Peak Hotels and Resorts Ltd

Four Stone Buildings’ John Brisby QC and Alexander Cook instructed by Candey LLP partners Ashkhan Candey and Andrew Dunn

For the (1) defendant/respondent Tarek Investments Ltd

One Essex Court’s Kenneth MacLean QC and David Caplan, instructed by Sidley Austin partner Matthew Shankland

For the (2) defendant/ respondent Peak Hotels and resorts group Ltd

Stewarts Law partner Philippa Charles

For the (3) defendant/ respondent Maynard McLaren, Sherway Group Ltd

Fountain Court Chambers’ Michael Brindle QC and 4-5 Gray’s Inn barrister Stephen Brown instructed by Berwin Leighton Paisner partner Graham Shear