Mark Bellissimo Sues Helgstrand's Global Equestrian Group Over Sale Wellington Horse Show

Fri, 05/10/2024 - 18:06

A company of U.S. real estate developer Mark Bellissimo is suing Andreas Helgstrand's and Waterland's Global Equestrian Group over first right of refusal in the sale of the Wellington horse show.

GEG In and Out of Wellington

In 2021, GEG entered an agreement with Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) to buy the Wellington International show grounds and its affiliate companies that own the land, operate the horse shows, and hold the licenses to the competition.

In 2023 GEG tried buying the extra land for the expansion, but Bellissimo seemingly toyed with the Danish company, refusing to sell the land as long as he didn't get his re-zoning permit to turn the land of the Global Dressage Festival into a golf community.

In the course of the summer and autumn of 2023, GEG's parent company Waterland decided to pull out and sell the horse show. At that time Helgstrand's core business in Denmark was heavily under fire due to an undercover documentary Operation X, which Helgstrand tried to prevent from airing by going to court. 

Nicklas Guldberg, Waterland's investment director, told Bellissimo in the autumn of 2023 that it had engaged with investment banker William Blair & Company LLC to facilitate the sale of Wellington International. 

Bellissimo's Company Sues

The Bellissimo owned company WI FL Acquisitions LLC filed a lawsuit on 25 March 2024 alleging that GEG has bypassed WI FL Acquisitions LLC's first right of refusal.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that "the lawsuit says WEP sold Wellington International to GEG because it would hold all equestrian assets for five to seven years and its parent company, known as Waterland, would make a significant investment from its "multibillion" fund to "enhance and expand Wellington's Equestrian Venues."

The PB Post further quoted that Bellissimo's attorney Daniel Rosenbaum said GEG has failed to deliver on commitments that it would invest in Wellington International and its expansion. 

Bellissimo does not seek to "regain ownership of the venue to keep it, but rather to sell it to a long-term player."  In the spring of 2024 Bellissimo's Wellington Lifestyle Partners (WLP) started building the expansion on the land adjacent to Wellington International.

Broken Promises?

The lawsuit alleges GEG "knowingly misrepresented" its financial ability to Wellington Lifestyle Partners and other Bellissimo partners by failing to fulfll the purchase of 144 acres and paying for the rent of competitive licenses it leased.

In 2022, GEG signed an agreement to "deposit" $1 million in exchange for the 114 acres to expand Wellington International and consolidate all competitive disciplines on one showground.

The lawsuit says that in June 2023, less than two years after the sale, Kasper Kristiansen (the managing director of Waterland at the time and who "resigned" in August 2023) told Bellissimo that GEG would sell Wellington International as the company had defaulted on its loans with its primary lenders and was no longer able "to purchase or lease any land or make any material commitments to expand the business."

According to the lawsuit, GEG stopped paying rent for Equestrian Village (GDF + Derby field) and owes $1.2 million. Bellissimo agreed to allow GEG to host the horse shows until June or October of 2024.

Read the full story with more details in the Palm Beach Post

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