Raking muck, Part 3
5th March 2012
Continuing on from Part 2, you will
recall that there are at least 8 listed companies in this series:
To this list we now add a 9th company:
In Part 2, we explained how Executive
Talent Limited (Executive Talent) had been rewarded with
shares as "Arranger" in the creation of COMG, in which Vicky Yu was also a subscriber, and how
earlier, in 2005, Executive Talent had been a creditor-cum-shareholder in the
KH Investment Holdings Ltd (KHIH, 8172, then Satellite
Devices) in the same year that Vicky Yu was appointed to the board of KHIH.
So whom else can we connect to Executive Talent? Joseph Lau, of COMG and CPEC,
which featured heavily in Part2, amongst others.
WKH and Hycomm invest in Corning
On 13-Aug-2007, WKH
agreed to buy 10% of Corning
Investments Ltd (Corning) from 3 vendors for HK$36m,
satisfied by 31,266,284 new shares (12.25%) of WKH at $1.1514 each. Corning was incorporated on 28-Feb-2007 and owned 100% of Digital Outdoor Television (Hong Kong) Ltd (DOTV)
which in turn owned 100% of Today's Media Ltd (Today's Media).
were "Yang Pei" (3.5%), "Ye Ai Fang" (3.0%) and Executive Talent (3.5%). We know
nothing about Yang Pei and Ye Ai Fang, who sold their entire stakes. The
announcement didn't say who owned Executive Talent, but the obligations of all
vendors were guaranteed by Joseph Lau and one Yuen Nim Cho. That would be
Joseph Yuen Nim Cho, then CEO of
DOTV. After the deal, Executive Talent retained 14.5% and the
other 75.5% was owned by 2 unnamed parties. The deal was completed on
24-Aug-2007 and the
circular was dated 30-Aug-2007. The financial adviser was
Kingston Corporate Finance Ltd.
DOTV was incorporated on 9-Jun-2006 and named "Adcentral Company Limited"
until 3-Apr-2007. DOTV acquired Today's Media on 2-May-2007 "and started its
operation since then". Today's Media had "an installed base of over 100 plasma
TVs in various locations in Hong Kong" in restaurants, computer arcade and
record stores. More indoor than outdoor then. It made a loss of HK$2.72m in 2005
and $4.84m in 2006. DOTV had consolidated net liabilities of $0.66m at
31-May-2007, but the deal valued it at (wait for it) HK$360m. Yes, really.
On 24-Aug-2007, 11 days after WKH invested in Corning, Hycomm
agreed to buy 7.5% of Corning from 3 vendors (2.5% each) for HK$27m,
satisfied by 270m new shares (7.56%) of Hycomm at $0.10 each. Each vendor was a
BVI company with no disclosed owner(s). The vendors were
Delancey Ltd (Delancey),
Noblemore Holdings Ltd (Noblemore), and Executive Talent. After
this, Delancey owned 48.5%, Noblemore 22.0% and Executive Talent 12.0% of
circular was dated 5-Sep-2007 and the deal completed on
18-Sep-2007. The financial adviser was
Mega Capital (Asia) Co Ltd.
We note that the COMG web site
describes Joseph Lau as "Founder of Digital Outdoor Television (DOTV)" so it
seems plausible that he was also behind one or more of the vendors in these
transactions - otherwise, he had no shareholding in the venture, which would be
odd for a founder, and it would be even odder to voluntarily guarantee the
vendors' obligations without having an interest in them. Whatever his role, this was yet
another outdoor media venture with which he was associated and stakes in which
had been sold at high prices to listed companies.
WKH has gradually written off its $36m investment in Corning. It wrote off
$6m in 2007, $9m in 2008, $6m in 2009 and $5.7m in 2010, reducing its book value
to $9.3m at 31-Dec-2010. Hycomm has taken a more pessimistic approach regarding
its $27m investment, writing off $4.5m in the year to 31-Mar-2008 and $22.5m in
the year to 31-Mar-2009, reducing its book value to zero less than 2 years after
purchase. So between the two listed companies, for $63m of investment, they have
only $9.5m of book value left.
Today's Media was dissolved by deregistration on 10-Dec-2010, and the DOTV
web site www.dotv.com.hk is
not responding at the time of writing.
A concert party for COMG?
Now that we have demonstrated Joseph Lau's association with Executive Talent
as guarantor of its obligations in the sale of Corning to WKH on 13-Aug-2007,
the question arises: were Joseph Lau and Executive Talent acting in concert in
the creation of COMG? Joseph Lau was the largest
participant in the placing on 5-Oct-2007 of unsubscribed shares from the open
offer, when he took up 29.53% of COMG, and he was probably also one of the 3
sub-underwriters of Tanrich Capital when the open offer was launched on
23-Aug-2007, just 10 days after the WKH/Corning deal.
As "Arranger" in the creation of COMG, on 23-Nov-2007, Executive Talent was
issued 44m shares (4.72%) of COMG, which diluted Joseph Lau to 28.14%. So
between them, they had 32.86% of COMG. If they were acting in concert, then that
should have triggered a takeover bid. We call on the SFC to investigate
this, in addition to the concert party concerns raised in Part 2.
That's enough about Executive Talent, but there is more to come about Joseph
Lau and friends, and we get there by looking at the history of Hycomm.
Hycomm share placing
On 27-Jul-2007, Hycomm
launched a placing of 320m shares (9.7%) @$0.126, a 19.75% discount to the
5-day average price, via Hani
Securities (H.K.) Ltd (Hani), to pay for a forestry
acquisition. It is notable that after the placing completed on 3-Aug-2007, there
was no immediate deposit of the shares into CCASS - they remained outside the
clearing system, and only 80m were
Hani's account on 21-Aug-2007.
Hycomm convertible notes
On 10-Oct-2007, Hycomm
launched a massive best efforts placing for up to HK$300m of 5% 3-year
convertible notes in 2 tranches, equivalent to 84.01% of the existing issued
shares, again through Hani. The conversion price of $0.10 was a 25.9% discount to the 5-day average
price. None of the placees would hold more than 9.99% of Hycomm upon conversion,
avoiding them becoming connected persons of Hycomm. A
circular was dated 1-Nov-2007 and the placing was approved (presumably on a
show of hands) at an EGM on 16-Nov-2007. Eventually and without further
announcement, $150m of the notes were issued on 4-Feb-2008, raising $146m net.
The announcement and circular both said that "Subject to consent of the
[notes] holders, [Hycomm] shall be entitled at any time before maturity to
redeem the whole principal amount of the relevant [notes]." What they didn't say
was that this would cost 105% of the principal amount. Shareholders should have
been told, but this fact is buried in note 24 of the
annual accounts for the year to 31-Mar-2008.
So who subscribed the notes? Disclosures of interests show that Joseph Lau
subscribed $34m (and simultaneously acquired 160m shares from someone else),
George Chan Yuen Ming (George
subscribed $50m and Beh Yong Shin
subscribed $50m, so each had a holding equivalent to 14.00% of the existing
issued shares (the disclosures wrongly show the percentage as 9.86%, which is
based on the enlarged share capital if all the notes were converted). We don't
know whom Joseph Lau acquired the 160m shares from, but we wonder whether that
relates in any way to Delancey, Noblemore and Executive Talent, which together
received 270m shares when they sold the stake in Corning to Hycomm, or to the
320m shares issued in the aforementioned placing. The 3 disclosed holders
together subscribed $134m of the notes, so $16m were subscribed by others.
The interesting thing about the convertible notes issue is that it reunites
George Chan with Joseph Lau, who was "a General Manager in Investment Division
for over 5 years" at Tomorrow International Holdings Ltd (Tomorrow, 0760), which is now known as
Talent Property Group Ltd. George Chan
was the controlling shareholder of Tomorrow and has been a substantial or
controlling shareholder of several listed companies but has never been a
director of any HK-listed company. Who needs the disclosure that goes with that?
He has featured several times on this site.
Neither George Chan nor Joseph Lau joined the Hycomm board, but on 15-Oct-2007, Mr Liu Shun Chuen
appointed as an ED of Hycomm, and three weeks later, on 6-Nov-2007, Mr
Yeung Sau Chung was
appointed as an INED of Hycomm,
switching to ED on 11-Dec-2007 and becoming MD on 4-Jun-2009, a post he
still holds. On 18-Dec-2007 Elaine Tam
Chi Ling was
appointed as INED. Roll the clock back to 31-Mar-2002 and you will find that
all 3 of these people served together on the board
of Goldbond Group Holdings Ltd (0172), then known as "Can Do Holdings Limited",
when the largest shareholder was George Chan. Take a look at the
directors' report and you will see what we mean.
Hycomm issues shares to George Chan for 5.8% of Tomorrow
On 12-Mar-2008, Hycomm
agreed to buy 130,386,800 shares (5.8%) of Tomorrow @$0.4525 from George
Chan in exchange for 590m shares (14.18%) of Hycomm. George Chan already held
$50m of notes convertible into 500m shares representing 14% of the existing
shares of Hycomm, but because he had not converted, he was not regarded as a
connected person under the Listing Rules.
Regulatory note: as we have said for years, the Listing Rules
should be amended so that persons with interests in shares underlying
convertibles, warrants or other derivatives, amounting to at least 10% of the
existing shares, should be regarded as connected persons. The potential to
become substantial shareholders by exercising these rights is enough to have
substantial influence over the actions of a company without converting.
Companies cannot issue shares at below par value, which in Hycomm's
case was $0.10. So the Hycomm shares were issued at $0.10, which was 48.36%
above the 5-day average closing price. However, this was exactly countered by
paying 48.36% above the 5-day average closing price for the Tomorrow shares. So
Hycomm issued shares with a par value of $59m in exchange for Tomorrow shares
which were only worth $39.8m in the market, defeating the purpose of the
prohibition against issuing shares below par value.
Hycomm already held 10m shares (0.44%) of Tomorrow before the deal with
George Chan, so the deal increased its stake to 6.24%. On 19-Jun-2009, Hycomm
sold 90m shares (4.00%) of Tomorrow off-market @$0.219, less than half the
purchase price, cutting its stake to 2.24%. The purchaser was an unnamed
"independent third party".
Open offer and house purchase
On 22-Jul-2008, Hycomm
launched a 1:2 open offer at $0.10, a 39.4% discount to the 5-day average, raising $40.0m net, along with a 5:1
share consolidation effective 28-Aug-2008. The offer was partly underwritten by
George Chan and partly by Head & Shoulders Securities Ltd (HSS).
At the same time, Hycomm agreed to buy Million Good Group Ltd (Million
Good), a BVI company which owned House 26, Las Pinadas, 33 Shouson Hill
Road, HK, which was the home of the vendors,
Stanley Choi Chiu Fai (Stanley
Choi) and his wife Maggie Cheung Fung
Kuen (Maggie Cheung), who agreed to lease it back for 2
years. The deal was priced at HK$37m, which was based on a property value of
$64m less a mortgage debt. $35m of the payment was deferred for up to 270 days
at 4% interest p.a.. Completion occurred on 31-Oct-2008.
Policy note: by buying an offshore company which owns a
property, the purchaser can avoid HK stamp duty on a property purchase, which is
one of many good reasons to abolish stamp
The open offer
circular went out on 28-Aug-2008 and the acquisition
circular was dated 4-Sep-2008. When the open offer
closed on 17-Sep-2008, it was only 32% subscribed. George Chan took up an
additional 148m shares, increasing his stake from 14.18% to 26.04% of Hycomm,
while HSS arranged subscribers for 134,947,910 shares or 10.81%. From the
disclosures of interest, we can
impute that in addition to taking up the entitlement to 16m shares on his
32m holding, Joseph Lau also took up 13m shares from the underwriter.
Disclosures of interest also show that 90m shares (7.21%) were
subscribed for $9m by Tin Ching Industrial Co Ltd, which was 99% owned by
Tin Ching Holdings Ltd (BVI), which
is 50% owned by Mr Chan Koung Nam
and 50% by Mr William Chan Kwong Yin.
After a 20:1 consolidation, they sold their shares off-market on 30-Jan-2009 at
$0.26, taking a loss of $7.83m, or 87%. Skipping forward, on 8-Aug-2011, Hycomm
loaned HK$5m to Hong Kong Finance Co Ltd, a money lender which is owned by
the two men. The announcement didn't mention their previous investment in Hycomm.
Incidentally, by the time of the Hycomm open offer, Stanley Choi owned $8m of
the aforementioned convertible notes.
Simsen and HSS
One puzzling thing is that
the Hycomm open offer announcement claimed that HSS was 29.7%-owned by Stanley Choi (at 22-Jul-2008). This is
odd, because either side of this date at 30-Apr-2008 and 30-Apr-2009, HSS was
100%-owned by Simsen, according to its accounts.
agreed to buy 40% of HSS from Maggie Cheung for HK$16m on 8-Mar-2007, of
which $3m was cash and $13m in shares. When this completed on 6-Jun-2007, the
shares were worth HK$63.21m due to a bubble in the stock. Simsen then put in
another $7.6m of cash in rights issues by HSS. On 17-Dec-2007, Simsen
agreed to buy the remaining 60% of HSS for HK$90m in shares from Maggie Cheung
(52%) and Mr
Lam Tung Woo (8%). When this
completed on 2-Apr-2008, the Simsen shares were worth $78.59m, and Stanley Choi
and Maggie Cheung via their 50:50 company
Lynch Oasis Inc. (Lynch Oasis) jointly
owned 29.7% of Simsen, just below the takeover trigger, while Chairman
Haywood Cheung Tak Hay (Haywood
owned 31.73%. Stanley Choi became an ED of Simsen on 1-May-2008.
Altogether then, Simsen agreed to pay $106m for HSS but booked it at
$157.2m due to share price movements. Simsen wrote off $108.18m of goodwill on
the acquisition in the 2 years to 30-Apr-2009.
was no indication in Simsen's accounts that it had sold or bought any part of
HSS in the year to 30-Apr-2009. So how could Stanley Choi have held 29.7% of HSS on
22-Jul-2008? The SFC should investigate this
On 27-Nov-2009, as part of a takeover of Simsen, it
sold HSS for just HK$31m to Tracing
Paper International Ltd (BVI), which was 70% owned by
Haywood Cheung (the outgoing Chairman) and 30% owned by Lynch Oasis. The sale was at close to net asset value, because HSS had in Jan-2009
transferred its securities broking business to fellow subsidiary
United Simsen Securities Ltd.
The number of SFC licensees at HSS reduced from 25 in Mar-2009 to 3 in Jul-2009,
as shown on this page. On
12-Apr-2010, Lynch Oasis sold most of its Simsen shares into the general offer, cutting
its stake to 1.00%, for HK$62.18m. Stanley Choi left the board of Simsen on
23-Apr-2010. HSS has resumed business under its new ownership.
Note redemption and rights issue
On 1-Dec-2008 Hycomm
announced that it would redeem the convertible notes, with $42m to be
redeemed on 26-Nov-2008 and the rest on 16-Dec-2008. The second redemption was
delayed to 26-Feb-2009, to allow Hycomm to complete a massive 7:1
rights issue at $0.144 per share (after a 20:1 consolidation on 29-Jan-2009)
to raise $60.9m net. The rights issue was underwritten by George Chan, Joseph
Lau and HSS, but Ms Beh sub-underwrote 94m shares from HSS, or 21.5% of the
When the issue
completed on 26-Feb-2009, only 34.08% of it was subscribed,
of which 30.93% was George Chan and Joseph Lau's entitlements, so the public,
who held 69.07%, only took up 3.15% of the issue and were heavily diluted to
11.51% of Hycomm. George Chan increased his stake from 26.04% to 29.74% (just
under the takeover threshold), Joseph Lau increased his stake from 4.89% to
19.31%, and Ms Beh took up her full sub-underwriting of 94m shares, or 18.83%.
Keep in mind that this issue was net cash positive for all of them, because the
company redeemed the notes on the day the issue closed. The top 3 shareholders then held 67.88% of Hycomm in total.
HSS arranged 9 other
subscribers to take up 20.61% of Hycomm, but they kept their stock outside the
clearing system, so when the dust settled on 3-Mar-2009, only 9.07% of Hycomm
was in CCASS
and thus tradable.
An amount equal to Ms Beh's shares was
CCASS with Yardley Securities Ltd on 1-Jun-2009.
Hycomm and GINSMS
On 15-Feb-2009, Hycomm
agreed to sell 60% of Global Edge
Technology Ltd (Global Edge) to
Panaco Ltd (Panaco)
for HK$4m. The buyer's place of incorporation was not disclosed, nor was its
owner. From another company's disclosures we can tell you that it was incorporated in HK on
3-Feb-2009, just 12 days before the deal. Panaco was said to be an independent
third party, but the other 40% of Global Edge was owned by
Royal Link Investment Ltd (Royal
Link), a controller of Global Edge within the meaning of Listing Rule
14A.13. For this reason only, it was said to be a connected transaction.
acquired its stake in Global Edge on 27-Jun-03 for HK$15m in new shares of
Hycomm. Global Edge indirectly owned 49% of GIN International Ltd (GINI),
engaged in inter-operator SMS services, delivering text messages between telecom
operators generates about HK$0.04 per message. It did this with equipment from
Comverse Network Systems,
which owned the other 51%, although Global Edge had an outsourcing contract with
GINI which gave it 99% of the net income generated by GINI for provision of
operation and management services to GINI, so the other 51% of GINI was not
worth much (51% of 1% of the net income). What you might call a low GINI
circular was dated 10-Mar-2009, with a fairness opinion from
Guangdong Securities Ltd signed
by Graham Lam Ka Wai, and the deal was
approved at an EGM on 27-Mar-2009. In the year to 31-Mar-2008, Global Edge made profit after tax of HK$1.911m,
so 60% of that is $1.147m and the sale P/E was just 3.5.
After the sale to Panaco, Global Edge somehow acquired the other 51% of GINI.
On 26-May-2009, Global Edge was rolled into a new Canadian shell,
GINSMS Inc, at a valuation of
C$4.76m (then about HK$33.4m), based on a share price of C$0.15, which was listed on
TSX-Venture exchange (code:
GOK) later that year after an offering at the same price. On
that basis, Panaco's 19,059,925 shares (60%) of GOK were then worth C$2.86m
(HK$20.0m) or about 5 times what Panaco paid Hycomm.
By the time of the
sale and purchase agreement to inject Global Edge into GOK, Royal Link had
reduced its stake to 30%, and there were two new shareholders:
Wisefit Global Ltd (Wisefit,
6%) and Best Power Capital Resources
Ltd (BPCR, 4%). A director of Wisefit was
Randy Hung King Kuen, a corporate
finance specialist and director of several HK-listed companies. A director of
BPCR was Judith Chien, about whom we know nothing, but the contact address for
BPCR was Shop 215, Manly Plaza, 995-997 King's Road, a small basement property
which was owned by Hycomm until it was sold some time in the year to
31-Mar-2009. You can spot it on page 111 of the
2008 annual report. A director of Panaco was a "Raymond Tung" and on the
supplemental agreement "Tung Siu Man". We know nothing about him.
According to the IPO
prospectus of 12-Nov-2009 (p42-43), the Chairman of GOK,
Jonathan Lai Man Kon (Jonathan
Lai) bought Panaco (with its shareholding in GOK) after GOK acquired Global Edge, but it doesn't say
from whom or for how much. Royal Link was 95% owned by
Thomas Ip Kam Hoi (Thomas Ip) and 5% owned by Jonathan Lai.
The two men were the only directors of Global Edge and GINI when it was rolled
into GOK. Jonathan Lai had been a director of GINI since Jan-2009.
Now here is the problem:
Jonathan Lai is the son of Plotio founder
Lai Yiu Keung (YK Lai),
who was Chairman of Hycomm until 4-Jun-2009. As Chairman, YK Lai signed the
letter in the circular, calling Panaco and its owner(s) "independent third
parties". It seems like too much of a coincidence that an
"independent third party" owning Panaco would subsequently sell it to the son of
the Chairman of the vendor, Hycomm. If Jonathan Lai had owned Panaco when it
dealt with Hycomm, or had an arrangement to buy it, then as the Chairman's son
he would have been a connected person under the Listing Rules.
on the SFC to investigate whether the circular contains a false and misleading
statement that Panaco was an independent third party, thereby misleading
shareholders who voted on this transaction.
If there was a failure to disclose, then it wouldn't be the first time. Hycomm, YK Lai, his wife and two
other directors were
censured by the Listing Committee on 28-Nov-2005 for a set of unapproved
connected transactions which related to a disposal of properties to YK Lai in
Hycomm and Stanley Choi
As mentioned above, Hycomm had 270 days after completion to pay the remaining
$35m to Maggie Cheung for the house-owning Million Good, taking it up to 28-Jul-2009. Although Hycomm had cash (net of bank borrowings) of $215.4m at 30-Sep-2009, it had not
paid off the debt. This was extended by mutual agreement to 31-Dec-2012, and the
interest rate dropped from 4% before 31-Dec-2009 to 1% after that. Meanwhile,
her husband Stanley Choi
increased his holding through the 5% disclosure threshold from 4.87% to
5.67% on 10-Aug-2009. He may have acquired the bulk of his shares in the placing
of unsubscribed shares at $0.144 by HSS after the rights issue. An amount equal
to his holding was
deposited into CCASS via United Simsen Securities Ltd on 12-Nov-2009.
Stanley Choi was
appointed ED and Deputy Chairman of Hycomm on 23-Apr-2010 at a director's
fee of HK$3m p.a., without any mention of the debt due to his wife. He
resigned on 1-Oct-2010 "due to his other business and academic development",
and the debt was settled with interest in the 6 months to 30-Sep-2011. According
to the annual report for the year to 31-Mar-2011, he did not receive any
Hycomm and the hokey cokey
You put your coal mines in, your coal mines out, in out, in out, shake them
On 29-Jun-2010, George Chan
agreed to transfer 97m shares (19.74%) of Hycomm to
Shih Jian Ping (Mr Shih)
and a separate
filing discloses the price of $1.20 per share in cash. That was a 49% discount to the market price of $2.35, but the net asset value was only
about $0.57 per share. In short, the stock was in a bubble, having risen from
$0.16 on 3-Mar-2009 after the rights issue. Mr Shih had experience in coking
coal mining in Shanxi province. He was
appointed as Chairman on 8-Jul-2010. However, the share transfer from George
Chan to Mr Shih was not as simple as it seemed, as you will see shortly.
On 20-Jul-2010, Hycomm
signed a non-binding letter of intent with 2 BVI companies, the owners of
which were not disclosed, to buy coal mines and coal washing plants for up to
HK$10.5bn. The bubble in the stock inflated further, with the daily close
peaking at $5.90 on 30-Aug-2010. During this, Joseph Lau
sold 10m shares @$3.60 on 20-Aug-2010 and
sold 9.4m shares @$5.60 on 15-Sep-2010, both off-market, cashing out
$88.64m for 3.89% of the company, reducing his stake to 15.42%.
concentration warning published on 27-Sep-2010, the SFC said, in relation to
Mr Shih's acquisition of shares from George Chan: "our enquiry
with the company registrar revealed that as of 13 September 2010, the Shares
transfer has not been effected." So it was an "agreement to transfer", but no
transfer had actually occurred. In our view, the
announcement of 29-Jun-2010 was false and misleading, because it said "after the
Shares Transfer, Regal Power and Mr Shi each holds..." rather than "will hold"
or "would hold".
We call on the SFC to investigate this false and misleading statement.
Investors relied on it in believing that Mr Shi, the new Chairman, had
an outright substantial stake in the future of Hycomm.
The stock was suspended at $4.96 on 29-Oct-2010 pending announcement of the
acquisition agreement for the coal mines which was signed on 28-Oct-2010, but
then there was a nearly 2-month gap (one could say the coke was on ice) until 20-Dec-2010, when Hycomm
abandoned the deal as "certain conditions" could not be fulfilled. When
trading resumed on 21-Dec-2010, the stock plunged, closing at $2.99, down 39.7%,
but still highly overvalued in our view.
On 31-Jan-2011, Mr Shih resigned as Chairman and ED of Hycomm "due to his
other business engagements", and the share transfer agreement was
terminated, so the shares reverted back to George Chan. It didn't take long
for George Chan to find someone else to dance with. On 8-Feb-2011, he
transferred 60m shares (12.02%) of Hycomm to Mr
Kong Lingbiao (Mr
Kong), another coal miner. No price was announced, but a
filing shows that it was $2.00 per share in cash, a discount of 44.8% to the
closing price of $3.62 that day. Mr Kong was
appointed as Chairman on 17-Mar-2011.
On 21-Mar-2011, Stanley Choi
sold his entire 28.69m shares (5.75%) of Hycomm off-market @$3.00, a 17.1%
discount to the closing price of $3.62, but a huge premium to NAV, grossing
$86.1m of proceeds.
On 11-Apr-2011, Joseph Lau sold another 35m shares (7.01%) of Hycomm @$3.371
off-market, cutting his stake to 8.41% for cash of $118.0m. We estimate that he
has already netted $174.3m from dealings in Hycomm shares, as follows:
Joseph Lau's remaining 42m shares, at Friday's (2-Mar-2011) close of $1.98, are worth
$83.16m, so that would take his net proceeds up to $257m. We are ignoring the
$1.7m gain on redemption of his $34m of convertible notes and the interest
Hycomm is still a partially-deflated bubble with a highly concentrated
ownership. The latest
interim report shows that it had net assets at 30-Sep-2011 of $0.586 per share. For the 6-month
period, it had turnover of $4.3m and a net loss of $0.7m. Most of the turnover
was from the management of car park spaces and the renting of the house to
Maggie Cheung and Stanley Choi. Only 28.03% of the
stock is in CCASS,
and 18.83% of that belongs to Ms Beh, which we believe is parked at Yardley
Hycomm and Inno-Tech
Now, let's take a trip back to 2002 and the IPO of Inno-Tech.
Wong Yuen Yee (YY Wong), co-founder and Chairman of Inno-Tech until
19-Jan-2011, was an ED and General Manager of Hycomm (then Plotio Holdings Ltd) from
1985 to 1991. That was before Hycomm took over the listing of a bankrupt
company, Kin Son Electronic (Holdings)
Co Ltd, in Oct-1997.
Thomas Ip, the other shareholder of GINSMS mentioned above, was a pre-IPO shareholder of Inno-Tech,
holding 5.06% of it immediately after the 2002 IPO at nominal net cost of
HK$6,162. According to the Inno-Tech prospectus, he had known YY Wong personally
for over five years before 2002, and had introduced business to Innno-Tech, so he was
rewarded with the shareholding. He had extensive experience in property
investment and trading business in the PRC.
YY Wong co-founded Inno-Tech with her brother,
Wong Kwok Sing, in 1999. The formal connection between Hycomm and Inno-Tech dates back at least to
20-Sep-2000, when Hycomm (then known as Plotio Holdings Ltd)
agreed to buy 2,100 shares (21%) of CyberLiving Holdings Ltd (CyberLiving),
the forerunner of Inno-Tech,
from 3 corporate shareholders (the owners of which were not disclosed) for
HK$54.75m, satisfied with 75m shares (6.34%) of Hycomm @$0.73. This was
supported by a valuation by Purview (Far
East) Ltd (then Sallmanns (Far East) Ltd) at $260m signed by
Brett A. Shadbolt (Mr
Shadbolt). We've put the
circular online for your entertainment.
CyberLiving was a loss-making 4-month old start-up with net assets of $0.44m at
31-Aug-2000. Hycomm's investment in CyberLiving was converted into 57.6m shares
(12%) of Inno-Tech upon its IPO in 2002, so the original cost was $0.95 per
share. Inno-Tech went public at $0.28, 70.5% less than Hycomm paid for it.
prospectus, p176, shows that on 22-Jul-2000, 3 months before Hycomm bought
their shares, the 3 shareholders,
namely City Support Trading Ltd, Nice Plan Development Ltd and Nanyin Investment
Ltd, had each paid par value for the shares, a total of US$2,100, "as they were
The owners of those companies were still not disclosed.
Michael Koh and his many GEMs
Another early investor in Cyberliving on 22-Jul-2000 was Sinopower Profits
Ltd, which subscribed HK$5.6m for 1,000 shares (10%) @$5,600, at same time as
sister company Oriental Faith Technology Ltd (Oriental Faith)
(which had earlier subscribed 500 shares for US$500/HK$3,900) bought 250 shares
(2.5%) @$6,000 from existing holders, increasing its stake to 7.5%. Both
companies were 100%-owned by Michael
Koh Tat Lee (Michael Koh) and his wife
Eva Wong (Eva
Wong). In total they had invested HK$7.1m for 17.5% of CyberLiving. Later, on
21-May-2001, Oriental Faith sold 517 shares to 4 investors for $6.925m or
$13,395 per share. The table on p12 of the prospectus gives the wrong entry cost
for Orient Faith because it ignores the sale proceeds, which gave the couple
back nearly all their investment. Their holding was converted into 33,792,000
shares (6.94%) of Inno-Tech at a net entry cost of HK$178,900 or $0.0053 per
One of the 4 investors who bought shares from Oriental Faith was Eva
Wong's brother, Denny Wong Chung Yu
(Denny Wong) and another was
Wong Shui Fun (SF Wong).
Their entry price to Inno-Tech worked out at $0.48 per share.
Michael Koh was the CEO of CPEC when it was first listed as "Intcera
High-Tech Group Ltd" on 7-Jul-2000, becoming NED on 1-Nov-2001 and resigning on
16-Dec-2002. He was appointed as NED of Hycomm on 12-Oct-2000 (soon after Hycomm
invested in Inno-Tech), becoming ED on 16-Jan-2003 and stepping down on
On 23-Apr-2003 Michael Koh became Chairman of
M Dream Inworld Ltd (8100) after
buying the largest shareholding, and SF Wong was appointed as an INED the
same day and became ED on 26-Mar-2004, stepping down on 16-Dec-2005. Michael Koh
became NED on 13-Apr-2007 and stepped down on 29-Feb-2008.
Michael Koh was later an ED of GEM-listed
China Railway Logistics Ltd (8089) from 22-Jan-2007 to 20-May-2008. We wrote
about his activities there in our article
China Railway Games (11-Jun-2009). His latest venture is at
Pan Asia Mining Ltd (PAM,
8173), which he joined as Chairman on 30-Nov-2011. In so doing, he replaced his
wife's brother Denny Wong, who was ED of PAM from 20-May-2008 to 6-May-2009 then
Chairman until 30-Nov-2011. This came on the back of a mining exploration in the
Philippines acquired from Eva Wong at a spicy valuation of HK$5,700m. We'll tell
you that story another time, suffice to say that PAM now has a market
capitalisation of about HK$260m. Michael Koh has been through more GEMs than
Elizabeth Taylor, but they didn't retain value the way hers did.
Hycomm and Codebank
In another marvellous deal, on 4-Mar-2000 Hycomm
agreed to buy and subscribe 18% of
Codebank Ltd (Codebank) for HK$171m satisfied by 68.4m
shares (6.53%) of Hycomm @$2.50. We've resurrected the
circular, which contains another
valuation from Mr Shadbolt valuing Codebank at HK$1,001m. A month earlier, on
3-Feb-2000, Hycomm signed an "Agency Agreement" with
Land First Holdings Limited (Land
First) and agreed to pay it HK$7.5m as an "introduction fee" for the
deal, satisfied with 3m shares @$2.50 upon completion of the acquisition.
Now guess who owned Land First? Hycomm didn't say, but the Inno-Tech IPO prospectus
reveals (p2) that when Inno-Tech group was established and until
31-Jul-2000, it shared an office with Land First, and that Land First was
100%-owned by YY Wong, the Inno-Tech co-founder. So at the same time as founding one start-up in which Hycomm invested
(Inno-Tech), YY Wong was the agent for the investment in another (Codebank).
The acquisition was delayed and on 15-May-2000 the price was
reduced to $153.25m (what a bargain) satisfied by 61.3m shares @$2.50. Hycomm also loaned
Codebank $2m which was capitalised into shares on 19-Jul-2001, and when Codebank
later listed, Hycomm's $155.25m investment became 60,584,726 shares (10.1%
post-IPO) with an average cost of $2.56 per share. Codebank went public on
21-Dec-2001 after an IPO at $0.50, 80.5% less then Hycomm paid for it. But their
loss was not over. Codebank
still holds the record for the
infant mortality on GEM after a chunk of its IPO proceeds went missing. It
last traded on 13-May-02, just 143 days old, before its listing was cancelled.
Hycomm wrote off its entire investment in 2001 and 2002.
So there's the disastrous history of Hycomm. In Part 4, we'll take you
through a set of horrible transactions involving Inno-Tech, amongst others.
© Webb-site.com, 2012