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Former City Market owner denies it is owed$12m

City Market’s former majority shareholder Neal and Massy is forcefully refuting reports that$12 million is still owed to it by the new principal owners Trans-Island Traders,Guardian Businesscan confirm.

“Neal and Massy hereby refutes vehemently the contents of an article,”said a statement sent toGuardian Businessyesterday, referring to an earlier report in a local tabloid.”The article indicated that the Finlayson Group owes Neal and Massy$12 million.

“This is absolutely untrue. There was never any conversation with Neal and Massy and the Finlayson Group about the owing of$12 million.”

The response follows an earlier Guardian Business report that a legal battle may be on the horizon for City Market, with the company locked out of its Oakes Field store over a lease dispute, forcing it to reposition that location’s 50 employees throughout its other outlets.

It’s a matter emerging out of what new City Market CEO Mark Finlayson-the head of the Trans-Island Traders group-termed a”hefty”rent increase at the aging location.

“Locks have been put on the store[because]the old lease has been terminated,”he toldGuardian Businessyesterday.”Twenty-one days rent has not been paid, but we’ve been trying to meet with[our landlord]and he has delayed the meetings for the past two weeks.

“Now he wants us to enter into a new lease agreement… with a very hefty increase. But I am not going to be forced into a new lease. As far as I’m concerned we have a legal battle on our hands.”

His landlord Neil Mactaggart collects for both the Oakes Field and Village Road locations, although the agreement for the eastern store still remains in good standing for the time being.

While he wouldn’t go into details about what new numbers were being thrown out for the new lease, Finlayson said the old rental agreement was based on a percentage of sales.

It’s unclear at this point just how long the dispute could continue. However, Finlayson said he was willing to enter into a new agreement, once the landlord is willing to make significant renovations to the structure.

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