Control of Amanresorts now clearer after court decision

Adrian Zecha, the founder of Amanresorts, has been reinstated as CEO by order of the High Court in London. The High Court injunction followed an unlawful attempt by Vladislav Doronin to remove Zecha as CEO and force him from his home of 15 years.

The court found Doronin's attempt to crown himself CEO, without board approval, was unlawful and in violation of his joint venture agreement with Omar Amanat, chairman of Amanresorts.

"I am delighted that Adrian is now back in charge. He will remain in charge until such time a suitable successor can be found. It is essential to me that Adrian retires in a manner of his own choosing, which requires that his loyal staff, who have helped build up Aman into what is, are looked after. The Aman brand and the legacy of Adrian Zecha are and shall forever be inextricably linked," Amanat said.

Amanresorts was bought from its previous owners in a $358-million deal in February 2014 by a joint venture between Amanat and Doronin, a Russian businessman. As part of the deal, Zecha was to remain as CEO.

However, in April, Doronin, acting through his company Tarek Investment Limited, removed Zecha in a boardroom coup from his role as CEO and appointed himself as CEO, despite having no hotel experience.

Peak Hotels and Resorts, Amanat's company, responded to the issue by pursuing High Court proceedings. In her judgment, High Court Judge Catherine Newman held that Zecha's "personal identity and vision is relevant to the performance of his function and the reputation enjoyed by the brand" and that "Zecha was the choice of CEO of both parties of the JVC and his exclusion… appears to me to be a clear breach of contract... Doronin has no proper basis for calling himself CEO."

Said Zecha of the outcome, "I welcome the Court's ruling and am grateful to have an opportunity to ensure that Aman Resorts, a company for which I have loved and nurtured for the last two decades, will continue to be a world-class brand with a devoted following. I remain committed to Aman's growth, while also preserving its spirit."