Steel construction company Hollandia, owned by the Lubbers family, must defend itself against a mega claim of tens of millions of euros. According to the Norwegian company claiming the damage, Hollandia deliberately let a subsidiary go bankrupt in order to avoid payment.

Hollandia is a medium-sized steel construction company in Krimpen aan den IJssel, which since the fifties has been in the hands of the well-known Rotterdam entrepreneurial family Lubbers.

In 2001, Hollandia took over industry counterpart Bailey. Three years later, that company was involved in a serious accident during the construction of a derrick in the port of Singapore. A part of the derrick collapsed, resulting in a million damage.
Damage claim

In the following years, Hollandia transformed the subsidiary company that had been involved in the accident into an empty company due to various restructurings, which went bankrupt at the end of 2011.

Now it appears that the accident for Hollandia still got a tail. The Norwegian company that hired Bailey as a subcontractor at the time, National Oilwell Varco (NOV) has been trying for years to recover its damage from the Dutch company.

In the summer of 2012, a British court ordered Bailey to pay damages of nearly $ 21 million ($ 18.6 million).

Because the Hollandia daughter in question had since gone bankrupt, there was little chance that the Norwegians would see their money back. But a judgment of the Rotterdam court that was made public yesterday shows that they were not satisfied with that.

According to the Norwegian company, Hollandia deliberately set up a cunning death house construction around the subsidiary to prevent it from having to pay the compensation. That is why the Norwegians, supported by curator Piet Gilhuis of the bankrupt Hollandia daughter, are now aiming their sights at Hollandia itself.

It appears from the documents that they hold the company liable for 7.6 million euros in lost insurance tokens and 25.5 million euros in total damage. Three (former) directors of Hollandia are also personally liable.

According to Ruud Hermans, the lawyer of the Norwegians, the insurance amount is ‘probably’ part of the total insurance claim. Hermans does not want to go into the matter in substance.

The judgment shows that the Rotterdam court has recently ruled that the Norwegian company and the bankruptcy trustee may conduct a case against the Hollandia companies and their (former) directors.

Incidentally, the judge noted that, despite the British judgment from 2012, it is not yet certain that Bailey was then liable for the damage caused by the accident. Hollandia disputes that, because the Norwegians would be responsible for the design of the structure that collapsed during a test.

The British court allegedly granted the claim because the Hollandia company in question did not submit any documents and not because it was proven that the company was responsible during the case.

Lawyer Sjoerd Warringa of Hollandia is unable to comment on the substance of the case, because ‘it is still before the court’. He does, however, point out that the discussion about liability still has to be conducted. “In that respect, we are at the beginning of the matter.”

The Lubbers family recently transferred a large part of the Hollandia companies to a joint venture with Amsterdam-based investment company Standard Investment. Part of the companies remained the full property of the family.

Standard founder Hendrik Jan ten Have confirms that the mega claim of the Norwegians and the liquidator press on the companies that remained the property of the Lubbers family.

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