Judge Pauses Chobani Founder’s Ex-Wife’s $530M Suit

October 24, 2012 – In The News
Law360

A New York State judge has put a hold on the $530 million lawsuit regarding the ownership of Chobani Inc. to allow time for investigation of shareholder status between the two sides – Chobani Inc. CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya and his ex-wife, Dr. Alyse Giray.

Giray claims to own shares of Chobani’s predecessor, Euphrates Inc., as indicated in a letter from Ulukaya, but is absent on stock certificates. According to Giray’s complaint, she lent Ulukaya hundreds of dollars to support the launch of Euphrates and received stake in the company in return. Ulukaya used assets from Euphrates to launch a separate yogurt business that eventually became the successful Chobani Greek yogurt. According to the suit, Giray was promised the same ownership interest in Chobani.

The suit claims that after years without compensation, Giray was threatened when attempting to claim her payment. Giray’s $530 million claim assumes a $1 billion value for Chobani. The lawsuit calls for an accounting of the private company that is under Ulukaya’s control to determine the true value of ownership stake.

Both sides are scheduled to appear for a conference November 14 after further investigating these ownership issues.

Euphrates Inc. is represented by Scott L. Vernick and John A. Wait of Fox Rothschild LLP.