One man’s claim to own a $130 million stake in Coca-Cola Company based on an old stock certificate is being called “a new version of the Beverly Hillbillies.”
That quote came from Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine who presided over a preliminary hearing on the legitimacy of the stock interest in question back in January. His court will have the ultimate say as to whether Tony Marohn is a newly minted millionaire or the simple owner of a very old piece of paper.
Marohn’s claim stems from his purchase of a Palmer Union Oil Company stock certificate in 2008. The savvy investor picked up the antique certificate at an estate sale for a “nominal amount of money,” according to Marohn family attorney David Margules. Margules said that his client did the legwork to trace the Palmer Union Oil certificate all the way to Coca-Cola through a long line of defunct companies and ancient mergers and acquisitions.
Marohn passed away in 2010, but his family has taken up the fight with Coca-Cola, pressing the soft drink manufacturer for 1.8 million shares of the company. If the Chancery Court upholds Marohn’s claim, his estate would become one of the largest non-institutional investors in the company, according to Yahoo! News.
Coca-Cola isn’t taking this one lying down. They issued a statement rebuffing the Marohns on Thursday:
“The claim of Mr. Marohn's estate that it is entitled to millions of dollars in Coca-Cola stock - based on a canceled stock certificate for a long-defunct oil company purchased at an estate sale - is meritless and unfair to the Company's millions of legitimate shareholders."
The case is being heard by the Delaware Chancery Court and can be followed under the name In Re Shares of Common Stock of the Coca-Cola Company.