Thursday 7 January 2010

Carson Yeung Consolidates Ownership of Publishing Company

Birmingham City FC owner Carson Yeung is now the majority shareholder of SMI Publishing Group, the firm that owns Sing Pao, a well-known Hong Kong Chinese-language newspaper.

Note, unsurprisingly the Sing Pao website already promotes the BluesTV online channel.

[Carson Yeung, the Blues’ No 1 “Keeper” said:
"It’s took a long time to buy the club, but finally I got it".

Carson Yeung to get majority ownership of SMI Publishing (SCMP; subscription required)
Toh Han Shih
Jan 05, 2010

Qin Hui, a mainland businessman and nightclub owner, is transferring 26.73 per cent of the shares of the firm that owns Sing Pao, a local Chinese newspaper, to Carson Yeung Ka-sing, apparently giving the owner of Birmingham City Football Club majority control of the publication.

In an announcement today, Qin does not explicitly say why the transfer is being made. However, in April 2008, Yeung lent HK$60 million to SMI Publishing Group, for which Qin pledged to Yeung a 26.37 per cent stake in SMI, which can be forfeited if the company fails to meet performance targets.

In his announcement, Qin said he gave up his claims to an unspecified HK$100 million debt owed to him, would transfer his 26.73 per cent stake in SMI Publishing to Yeung, and "let Yeung have more room to run and expand the business of Sing Pao".

Before the transfer, Qin owned 63.34 per cent of the GEM-listed company that owns Sing Pao, while Yeung owned the rest, according to the stock exchange website.

In a statement in the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) today, Qin says, "it is regrettable if this newspaper [Sing Pao] has to cease publication due to dissension among shareholders", referring to himself and Yeung, the company's only two shareholders.

On September 9, the board of SMI Publishing removed Qin's younger brother, Qin Hong, Wang Fei and Jiang Jinsheng as directors "with immediate effect", because "they were not performing their duties and affecting the harmonious working relationship of the board", according to an SMI announcement.

Qin Hui took over Sing Pao in 2004. Qin Hong was appointed chairman and executive director of SMI Publishing in 2006.

In November last year, SMI Publishing was served a winding-up petition by Kenny Leung Chi-man over HK$1.69 million which the firm owed Leung. The petition will be heard in the High Court on January 20.

"Of course, our newspaper will not close down," said Rosetti Yip, who was appointed chief executive of the firm on September 28 last year.

Yeung acquired a stake in SMI Publishing in 2008 and took over Birmingham City, an English Premier League football club, for HK$731 million in October last year.

SMI Publishing has consistently lost money since 2005.

The company is applying for a resumption of the trading of its shares, which has been suspended since April 28, 2005.

On August 15, 2008, the company admitted late payment of wages to employees.

According to mainland and Western media reports, Qin testified in a mainland court that he offered almost 18.68 million yuan (HK$21.22 million) in bribes to Li Peiying, a former chairman of Beijing Capital International Airport (SEHK: 0694), during Li's trial for bribery and embezzlement.

Li was found guilty and executed in August last year.

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