LONDON -- A british administrator who has taken charge of one of the late tycoon Robert Maxwell's flagship companies said on Monday he was confident about the outcome of a trans-Atlantic court battle for control of its best assets.
A U.S. court was due to rule late Monday on a bid by the British court-appointed adminstrators to control Maxwell Communication Corp.'s assets. Most of them are in the United States, but are coveted by British creditor banks.
Mr. Maxwell died Nov. 5, when he went overboard from his yacht. His death was followed by the collapse of his global publishing empire under debts worth $5 billion, leaving banks scrambling to salvage whatever they can.
Jonathan Phillips, one of three administrators appointed by a British court to run Maxwell Communications, said the U.K. court had barred directors of the company from fighting for the same assets.
"The administrators obtained an injunction against the directors, restraining them from taking further action on behalf of [Maxwell Communication] in the United States," Mr. Phillips said.
"Once administrators are appointed under U.K. law, the executive powers of the directors are suspended," he said.
The administrators from accountants Price Waterhouse say they should control the assets, as most Maxwell Communication debts - estimated at $2.8 billion - are owed to British banks.
U.S. assets include the Macmillan publishing house and Official Airlines Guide.
Another administrator, Mark Homan, flew to New York last week to seek protection from creditors under U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules. Mr. Homan applied for this protection to the court handling the Maxwell Communication application in the United States.
Coordinated Approach Sought
"I get the impression he had a fairly constructive weekend," Mr. Phillips said.
A hearing was due later on Monday, he added, "to establish a coordinated approach between Chapter 11 proceedings and U.K. proceedings," at the U.S. bankcruptcy court in New York.
"It's merely trying to deal with an unprecedented situation with a single company being in two forms of proceedings at the same time," Mr. Phillips said.
It was the first time a U.K. company had filed for protection under U.S. bankcruptcy law, and lawyers were trying to find out whether there was a legal conflict.
Allegations Being Probed
Britain's Serious Fraud Office, a government prosecution agency, is investigating allegations that Mr. Maxwell operated an illegal share-support scheme in the last months of his life.
He had given Maxwell Communication shares as collateral on some of his huge bank loans. When the share price fell earlier this year, analysts say, Mr. Maxwell had strong incentives to try to increase it.
Investigators suspect he did this using money plundered from pension plans and funds from his other publicly owned company, Mirror Group Newspapers.