Wow. So the Hicks Family feud is now public.
Posting as this is a regular topic on AE.
Adam Internet founder Gregory Allyn Hicks and son Scott Gordon Hicks in bitter legal fight
March 11, 2016 12:00am
SPLIT: Adam Internet founder Greg Hicks and son Scott Hicks.
A FORTUNE of up to $80 million has torn apart the son and father whose small technology firm grew into leading South Australian company Adam Internet.
Company founder Gregory Allyn Hicks, 62, and his son, Scott Gordon Hicks, 37, are engaged in a bitter legal fight amid claims of dirty business dealings, attempted blackmail, office affairs and misfortune.
The battle centres on claims to the $60 million to $80 million windfall from Adam Internet, including proceeds from its 2013 sale to iiNet Ltd, 27 years after Greg Hicks founded the company.
Following multiple hearings and failed mediation, the internet mogul father and computing entrepreneur son will air their grievances in a 15-day Supreme Court trial starting next month.
Scott Hicks, a father of three from Hyde Park, is seeking undisclosed damages and compensation over claims that he missed out on his rightful share of sale profits, because he was forced to sign a legally binding exit agreement more than a year before the sale.
Court documents detail how the pair’s relationship deteriorated over six years amid alleged heated arguments, resentment and disagreements over their respective roles and the company’s direction.
Greg Hicks also accuses his son of attempting to blackmail him over an alleged affair with a colleague. He denies having an affair and his son denies the blackmail claim.
The breakdown, according to Greg Hicks, started at Scott’s engagement party in 2006, during which his father learnt how his son’s then fiancee and now wife, Catherine, allegedly referred to herself as “heiress to the Adam Internet fortune”.
He also claims he could “no longer trust” his son after he “suspected” Scott had told his partner and in-laws he “owned or would own Adam Internet”.
Documents filed with the court show their hostility came to a head during a heated meeting in June 2012, the exact circumstances of which remain disputed.
During the meeting, Greg Hicks allegedly told his son: “You will never be anything more than an employee in my company and if you are not happy with that, leave. If you walk out that door you walk out of my life, the company and the family and there is no coming back and I don’t ever want to see you again.”
He claimed that his son replied: “I wouldn’t have it any other way you limp-d--- c---.”
Greg Hicks also initially alleged that his son had “threatened to kill” him in September 2012. Court documents show his accusation was based on an email “sent by or on behalf of or at the direction of Scott Hicks purported in the name of Muhammad Sadik to Greg Hicks ... with the subject line ‘I have been hired to kill you’ ”.
However, Greg Hicks withdrew the claim after his son denied the allegation and explained, in court documents, it was a “notorious hoax email sent to email recipients worldwide”.
In his statement of claim, launched in August 2014, Scott Hicks — Adam’s managing director before his abrupt departure was announced in August 2012, a year before the iiNet sale — accuses his father of “unconscionable, misleading and deceptive” conduct.
He also accuses his father of breaching their “utmost good faith” relationship and reneging on a promise, allegedly made over years, to give him “equity” in the business in the event of a sale or his father’s death.
“Despite demand by Scott Hicks, Greg Hicks has failed, or (has) refused to account ... for any equity in the Adam Internet business, or its traceable proceeds,” states Scott Hicks, who earned up to $1.35 million a year in his role at Adam.
He claims that at a meeting at the Hyde Park Tavern in August 2012, he was told to “quickly” sign a legally binding exit agreement in which he received a $645,000 payout and also tied him to several clauses, including transferring his shares in the company.
His father, Adam’s executive chairman, denies his son’s claims and says Scott had only a “figurehead role”.
But Scott Hicks details his efforts to create new work, projects and business relationships for the company.
“But for the entrepreneurial ability and hard work of Scott Hicks ... the growth in the value of Adam Internet’s business would not have been achieved,” he states.
“During his tenure ... Scott Hicks was responsible for transforming (the business), and by deploying exceptional entrepreneurial ability and hard work, did transform (it).”
Scott Hicks, who started with the company after finishing at Eynesbury Senior College in 1995, claimed an entry form for the 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year, signed off by his father, stated he owned 49 per cent of the business.
Court documents show Greg Hicks said Scott’s claim of company ownership was false but he admitted the form was still submitted to organisers.
Scott Hicks claimed he worked 12 to 14-hour days but his father accuses him of working only up to five hours a day and says he took “significant” leave. This, his son said, was to help around the birth of children and for his honeymoon.
Scott Hicks also alleges he was forced to sign a prenuptial agreement because of his father’s fears his wife “might be able to attack” the business assets in any potential “matrimonial dispute”.
It was signed two days before the wedding in 2007 after his father allegedly threatened not to attend the wedding.
In his statement of defence, refiled a third time last August, Greg Hicks, of Oakbank, denies his son’s “relief” claim because he “made all the important decisions”.
“It was by reason of the entrepreneurial ability of Greg Hicks, and not Scott Hicks, that the business of Adam Internet prospered,” he asserts.
“Since ending his employment with Adam Internet ... Scott Hicks has not undertaken a successful business venture and is presently working from home.”
His son has since invested in telecommunication ventures.
Greg Hicks, now a property developer, alleges in documentsthe blackmail attempt was overa denied “inappropriate relationship” with an Adam colleague.
His son, he claimed, checked his personal email and phone records “without (his) knowledge of consent”, adding: “(He) threaten(ed) to tell others about the alleged relationship including (wife) Keren Hicks and (daughter) Kara Hicks unless Greg Hicks re-evaluated Scott Hicks’ departure from Adam Internet and/or improved the terms of the Exit Agreement.”
Scott Hicks claimed he could legally check the records and was acting for his mother, 64, over her fears her husband was having an affair.
Scott Hicks declined to comment. Greg Hicks did not respond to inquiries.
WAR OF WORDS
Final meeting between the father and son in Scott Hicks’ office on June 15, 2012
Greg Hicks: “So you’re leaving.”
Scott Hicks: “No, I want to work here forever, I just require some understanding of a few things to take us forward as a business.”
[After Greg Hicks asked Scott Hicks to follow him back to his office]
Greg Hicks: “You will never be anything more than an employee in my company and if you are not happy with that, leave.”
[Upon Scott Hicks motioning to walk out of Greg Hicks’ office and return to his own office]
Greg Hicks: “If you leave, I will never see you or your family ever again, you will be cut off from everything and every dollar and I will also sell everything including Adam Internet and all the holiday homes.”
[Whereupon Scott Hicks levelled abuse at Greg Hicks and left Greg Hicks’ office]
Greg Hicks: “So you’re leaving?”
Scott Hicks: “Yes, unless you have changed your mind.”
[After Greg Hicks asked Scott Hicks to follow back to his office]
Greg Hicks: “Before you go you need to do a handover to Michael Owen [Adam Internet’s chief operations officer] and give him the details. You will never be anything more than an employee in my company and if you are not happy with that, leave.”
[Upon Scott Hicks motioning to walk out of Greg Hicks’ office]
Greg Hicks: “If you walk out of that door you walk out of my life, the company and the family and there is no coming back and I don’t ever want to see you again.”
Scott Hicks: “I wouldn’t have it any other way you limp d*** c***.”
Source: South Australian Supreme Court
ADAM IN PARADISE
■ Greg Hicks founded the company as a “hobby” from his home in Flagstaff Hill in 1986, from which he created bulletin boards — a precursor to the internet where users could dial in to a computer. Scott Hicks once said: “Most of my friends described my house as the NASA satellite launch centre.”
■ The company name changed to Addamm Pty Ltd, Adam Link Pty Ltd and then Adam Internet from April 1992 before becoming a leading internet service provider and data warehouse supplier in South Australia.
■ Between 1996 and 2012, its value increased from $100,000 to $70 million; its profits rose from $50,000 to more than $12 million; sales rose from $100,000 to more than $50 million; market share increased from 1 per cent to 45 per cent; and its customer base increased from 1000 to 100,000, according to Scott Hicks.
■ At its height, the company employed more than 200 staff. Its senior leadership team included: Greg Hicks, executive chairman; John Gerschwitz, chief financial officer; Roger Godwin, consultant; Michael Owen, chief operations officer; Rob McKeon; Scott Hicks, managing director; Caroline Eastwood, general manager sales; Anita Lang, executive assistant.
■ Scott Hicks was an entrepreneur of the year finalist and the company has been named the second-generation SA Family Business of the Year. It was also a Port Adelaide Football Club sponsor.
■ On August, 31, 2013, Greg Hicks sold the company to iiNet Ltd for approximately $60-$80 million, according to his son. Greg Hicks says a confidentiality clause prevents him from disclosing the price.
"There's too many self-Indulgent wieners in this city with too much bloody money! Now, if I was driving a 1967 275 GTB four-cam... "