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CDL director quits, citing concerns over investment

Another board member of City Developments Limited (CDL) has resigned, citing concerns over the company’s investment in Sincere Property Group.

In a late-night filing on Tuesday, CDL announced that Mr Koh Thiam Hock, 70, had stepped down as an independent non-executive director, with immediate effect from Monday, after more than four years on the property giant’s board.

CDL said Mr Koh believed it was “most appropriate for him to now step down as a director” after having “shared his observations, concerns and suggestions on the group’s investment in Sincere”.

Mr Koh’s resignation comes not long after former non-executive and non-independent director Kwek Leng Peck quit abruptly in October after more than 30 years in the role.

Mr Kwek is the cousin of Mr Kwek Leng Beng – the billionaire executive chairman of CDL who also helms the Hong Leong group of companies – and the uncle of CDL group chief executive Sherman Kwek Eik Tse, son of Mr Kwek Leng Beng.

At the time, Mr Kwek Leng Peck cited disagreements with the board over CDL’s investment in Sincere, as well as its continuing provision of financial support to the Chinese property group. He also had reservations over the company’s approach in managing its London-based wholly owned unit, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, which he concurrently resigned from as a director.

With Mr Koh’s exit, CDL has appointed Ms Carol Fong, group chief executive of CGS-CIMB Securities, as its new independent non-executive director with immediate effect. She was also appointed a member of the remuneration committee on the company’s board.

In a separate filing with the Singapore Exchange on Tuesday night, CDL said it looked forward to Ms Fong’s “contribution of skills and diversity” to its board’s current core competencies.

Additionally, it announced a change in composition of its board and certain board committees following Mr Koh’s resignation and Ms Fong’s appointment.

With effect from Tuesday, Mr Chong Yoon Chou and Mr Colin Ong Lian Jin were appointed as members of CDL’s audit and risk, and remuneration committees, respectively, while Mr Philip Yeo stepped down as a member of the remuneration committee. At the same time, Mr Sherman Kwek was appointed member of the board committee.

CDL’s recent leadership changes come after the group’s decision to acquire a 51.01 per cent stake in China-based real estate developer Sincere for 4.39 billion yuan (S$891 million) in April. The group has since appointed Deloitte & Touche Financial Advisory Services to conduct a review of its investment in Sincere. It says Deloitte has “ascertained that there are good assets that the group can extract further value (from)”.

THE BUSINESS TIMES

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