A falling-out between shareholders of Northland avocado oil producer Olivado has resulted in the parent company going into receivership.

Its Swiss-based backer and chief executive Gary Hannam has wrested control of the group from founder and major shareholder Chris Nathan.

Hannam was not willing to keep funding the group with Nathan involved.

The businesses are being valued with a view to a partial or full sale.

Nathan, whose father, Julian, was murdered in 2007 while working for Olivado's operation in Kenya, resigned as a director of Olivado Holdings in February. He has also stood down as managing director of Olivado New Zealand.

He is understood to be living in France.

Olivado Holdings is backed by Hannam's Swiss company, Hopetoun Holdings GmbH, to the tune of several million dollars.

Hopetoun gave Olivado's shareholders three months to find new funding.

That did not happen, and Hopetoun appointed receivers this week.

Olivado's New Zealand, Kenyan and American operating companies are not in receivership and continue to trade.

Receiver Anthony McCullagh said the aim was to re-establish good governance and see what the businesses were worth.

"If the lender can get all his money back, all well and good; if not, well he may have to just hold it for a while."

Olivado was founded by professional chef Chris Nathan in Kerikeri nine years ago with Hannam coming on board as an investor.

It produces avocado oil in Kerikeri and Kenya, and the product has gained endorsements from celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Peter Gordon.

Hannam, a New Zealander and film producer, has recently been dividing his time between his home near Lucerne in Switzerland and Olivado's Kenyan operations.

The Olivado situation is not the first boardroom battle he has been involved in.

This year Wellington television production company Ninox Television was placed in receivership as a means of sacking a dysfunctional board, its receiver said.

Ninox's main funder was Hannam.

Ninox, which produced prime-time reality shows including Dream Home and Location, Location, Location, resumed trading as a new entity with no creditors or staff affected.

FROM KIWI MOVIE CLASSICS TO KENYA
Gary Hannam is probably best known in New Zealand for his role in producing Kiwi classic film titles such as Smash Palace and The World's Fastest Indian.

In recent years he has found himself fully involved with avocado oil producer Olivado's growing Kenyan operation, and was on a plane to Nairobi as the Herald went to press.

New Zealand's fickle weather and cyclic avocado crop led Olivado to expand to the more reliable climate of Kenya, where it operates a network of Fair Trade farmers growing organic fruit.

It had just opened a new plant on the outskirts of Nairobi in 2007 when 76-year-old Julian Nathan, father of founder Chris Nathan, was tragically killed in a robbery.

The Nairobi site lost most of its New Zealand staff as a result, forcing Hannam to take up the reins.

Despite its troubles, the business has continued to grow and now exports to 10 countries.

It says its global sales grew 40 per cent in the last financial year.

Olivado NZ general manager Sarah Nicholls says operations have always been constrained by supply, hence the move to Kenya.

"Once there's the security of supply we can continue to grow the business, and there's a much bigger market out there."