News

‘Confidential settlement’ reached between Grey Group and Yolk founders at Singapore’s Supreme Court

A legal dispute between Grey Singapore and the founders of the former digital agency Yolk, which was acquired by the WPP firm back in 2010, has been settled at the Supreme Court in Singapore.

 

Four minority shareholders of Yolk were suing WPP for alleged “oppressive acts” by senior executives at Grey. And Grey Group Asia-Pacific chief executive officer Nirvik Singh appeared in court earlier this week with chief financial officer Ali Belgaumi following Singh into the dock.

WPP’s former chief strategy officer Scott Spirit was also due to answer questions, but then a settlement was reached.

Holding company WPP was understood to have started counter legal action against former Yolk chief executive Benjamin Tan, chief technology officer Adrian Lee and five other former employers after they lodged an internal complaint to WPP in August 2016 about the “minority oppressive acts” of Singh and Belgaumi.

On conclusion of the case, WPP put out the following statement: “WPP and the shareholders in Yolk, including former CEO Ben Tan, have agreed to settle their dispute which is currently being heard in the Singapore High Court.

“The settlement is confidential but specifies a transfer of shares in Yolk to WPP, on agreed terms. The parties are comfortable that the settlement satisfies both parties’ concerns which led to the litigation.

“The parties look forward to putting these issues behind them and moving forward.”

Grey itself refused to comment when approached by Mumbrella. Tan, however, told Mumbrella: “All I can say is to echo and confirm WPP’s statement that a settlement had in indeed been reached, and that it does include the transfer of our shares to WPP on mutually satisfactory terms.

“I am humbled by the massive support received, and would like to give special thanks to our legal team Joseph Lee (lead counsel), Lok Vi Ming and all at LVM Law Chambers for their outstanding work throughout the two years and especially during the trial. And finally, my gratitude must go the ex-employees of Yolk that were somehow pulled into this, yet steadfastly stood by and with me.”

The allegations against Grey’s senior management suggested that Yolk’s existence was undermined by “retrenching its original employees, transferring all remaining employees and client to Grey Group Singapore”.

Meanwhile, WPP alleged that Yolk staff violated non-compete clauses and “conspired to injure Yolk” by setting up competing businesses. 

Grey dropped the name Yolk in October 2014 and the entity became known as Grey Digital, it was said to “create tighter brand integration with Grey Group”.

ADVERTISEMENT

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing