Finance

Shareholders online jeweler Vedder & Vedder are fighting each other out

This is apparent from a decision made public yesterday by the Amsterdam Enterprise Chamber, the special court for conflicts in business.

Online jeweler

Twin sisters Esther and Anne Vedder (32) started an online store in 2016, with which they sell jewelery with a personal element. Family friend Marco van Ramshorst invested 10,000 euros in the startup at the time in exchange for 10 percent of the shares.

Over the years, he also lent the web store another 100,000 euros, loans that have now largely been repaid by the company.

influencers

Vedder & Vedder mainly booked start-up losses in the early years. But in recent years, the jeweler, which was recommended by television stars such as Chantal Janzen and Sylvie Meis and influencers such as Monica Geuze, has become increasingly well known.

There is now even a docuseries about the two entrepreneurs on Videoland.

Thanks to its growing fame, the company also became a financial success. In 2020, Vedder & Vedder made a profit of 700,000 euros on a turnover of 7.5 million euros.

Minority shareholder

Now that things are going so well, Esther and Anne Vedder want to get rid of their minority shareholder. The founders offered Van Ramshorst 175,000 euros for the shares he bought five years ago for 10,000 euros.

But the 50-year-old investor is satisfied with his stake and only wants to sell it if he gets a much higher price for it. He would like to collect at least 650,000 euros for the shares.

Smart construction

Because the Vedder sisters thought that was too much, they came up with a trick. The major shareholders threatened to sell Vedder & Vedder’s business to another company of which they are the sole shareholders.

After liquidation of the empty shell, Van Ramshorst would then be left with 10 percent of the sales proceeds, after deducting the debts.

Van Ramshorst did not let that threat push himself out of the company and went to the Enterprise Chamber. There he demanded an investigation into the state of affairs at the online jeweler.

Salary increases

In addition to the threat of undermining the company, he also pointed to the salary increases that the Vedders had awarded themselves without informing him as a minority shareholder. Their joint annual income increased in steps from 120,000 euros to 300,000 euros.

The Enterprise Chamber acknowledges that these salary increases should have been better coordinated with Van Ramshorst, but believes that they are no reason for an investigation. And because the trick with which the investor was put under pressure was ultimately not carried out, no investigation is needed for that either.

The Enterprise Chamber therefore rejected Van Ramshorst’s demands last Monday. But that does not resolve the conflict between shareholders.

Follow the rules

Van Ramshorst nevertheless says that he is satisfied with the verdict. “Although we did not receive the research we asked for, we thought it was especially important to ensure that Vedder & Vedder adheres to the rules, for example regarding salary increases. The court has confirmed this.”

According to the investor, the ruling also prevents the ‘foolishness’ with the shift in activities. “Because that ultimately did not go through, the judge could not assess it. But it has been clearly stated that it cannot be done like this.”

Next steps

Van Ramshorst says he has not yet decided on possible legal follow-up steps. He does, however, hint that he has no intention of selling his shares for the time being. “I’m happy with how the company is doing.”

Major shareholder Esther Vedder says she does not want to say anything about the conflict with the investor. “I don’t know what makes sense, because of course it’s all sensitive.”

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