Yung Kee holding firm wind-up an option
A court has allowed winding-up as an option for the future of a holding company which indirectly owns the Yung Kee Restaurant - but says this does not necessarily mean the famed roast-goose venue will shut down.
In the latest move in the legal battle between members of the Kam family who own the restaurant, Court of First Instance judge Mr Justice Andrew Chung On-tak rejected an application by one brother and a nephew to strike out a winding-up petition lodged by another brother.
In his decision, Chung said he agreed with the petitioner, elder brother Kam Kwan-sing, better known as Kinsen Kam, that whatever happened to Yung Kee Holdings, it did not mean the restaurant would close.
In the hearing that began on July 13, younger brother Kam Kwan-lai and nephew Carrel Kam Lin-wang asked the court to strike out Kinsen Kam's winding-up petition.
The ruling means winding-up remains an option, along with the possible sale of Kinsen Kam's 45 per cent share in the company to his younger brother, or a possible third option.
Barrister Jat Sew-tong SC, who acted for Kinsen Kam, said after the ruling that he strongly believed customers would continue to enjoy the restaurant's roast goose no matter what the court eventually ruled.
'I don't see the legal battle or the final ruling having any impact on the daily operation of the restaurant,' he said.
Jat said the next step was to prepare for the hearing, possibly next year, to determine the future of the holding company, unless the matter was resolved through mediation.
The law firm for the younger brother said it had not received any instructions for an appeal.
Jat argued against a move by Kam Kwan-lai and Carrel Kam, who asked the court to strike out Kinsen Kam's winding-up petition. In a nine-page written judgment, Chung said he agreed with Jat's argument that Yung Kee Holdings, which holds 80 per cent of restaurant operator Yung Kee Restaurant Group, did not directly own or operate the restaurant business.
'Even if Yung Kee Holdings is wound up, the liquidator will not be able to sell the entire restaurant business,' the judge said.
'I also agree with the petitioner that any such difficulty ... is ultimately a matter of details for the liquidator and or the potential purchaser of the Yung Kee Restaurant Group shares to consider, and cannot advance the respondents' case in this application.'
The judge cited Jat's argument that a sale upon winding-up could be a better option for Kinsen Kam than selling to his brother because, given the restaurant's reputation, 'more than a few famous, sizeable food and hotel operators could be interested in paying an even higher price than what the respondents may be willing to pay'.
He noted that Kinsen Kam had accepted that winding-up was sought only as an 'alternative relief'.
The court also accepted that the restaurant business had not been adversely affected despite the legal battle and any concerns of the patrons or staff were far from widespread, and likely to be temporary.
'For the reasons given by the petitioner, I agree with the petition and disagree with the respondents,' the judge concluded.
He ordered the losing party to pay costs.
During the hearing, the court heard that companies under the Kam family had no less than HK$880 million in cash, a whole commercial block in Central worth at least HK$1 billion, and HK$127 million in other net assets. In 2008 and last year, the restaurant made more than HK$50 million a year.