Lai See

Suspense at Wison Engineering is killing shareholders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 1:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 1:00am

Wison Engineering Services, a Hong Kong listed EPC (engineering, procurement construction) company, has the unfortunate distinction of having been suspended for 12 of the 20 months it has been listed.

Readers may recall that it produced a set of eye popping half-year results in August 2013 with profits attributable to shareholders up by a whopping 7,224.3 per cent while revenue grew by 131.3 per cent and gross profit soared 92.8 per cent. Furthermore, it announced a dividend payout ratio of 574 per cent, which is highly unusual since the norm is about 50 per cent. A week or so later the chairman and founder, Hua Bangson, disappeared and it emerged in early September last year that he was assisting the authorities with their corruption investigation into PetroChina.

In March it was announced that he had been arrested. Meanwhile, the company has been struggling with liquidity after Agricultural Bank of China called in its 186 million yuan (HK$234 million) loan. The upshot of all this is that shareholders have been unable to trade their shares for a year. It's not as if company activity collapsed in the wake of the chairman's disappearance. Net profit for the six months ended June 30 was 35.2 million yuan, up 3 per cent.

However, the listings committee has been trying to chivvy the company into resuming trading. But Wison says it wants to continue the suspension while renegotiating a number of its banking facilities which are in default. On May 29 the listings committee ordered the company to resume trading, but Wison countered by seeking a review of this decision. This failed and Wison said in July that it was contemplating an appeal. Meanwhile, investors are left twiddling their thumbs.


All quiet on Wellington Street

It has been a while since we've mentioned illegal car parking. This is not because there has been a miracle and it has stopped.

We are constantly receiving complaints from readers about this. The irony now is that people have got so used to illegally parked cars that while they may not like it, they feel something is wrong if the vehicles have been cleared.

This was the case earlier this week when the police had evidently cleared Wellington Street in Central at 9am, leaving it eerily empty as if there'd been a bomb scare. However, the "tycoonmobiles" were back the following morning.

We still remember an episode of RTHK's Police Report programme last year which addressed the issue of illegal parking, an indication that the police are at least aware of it.

It laughably showed a car being towed away for parking illegally, something which can be staged for television, but in reality never happens. Until the police take a harder line, either by increasing fines, clamping, or towing vehicles away, this problem will continue.


In-office affairs

We see that the website is running a somewhat unusual poll on its Hong Kong site. It's asking financial professionals for their views on office romances.

The answers so far indicate that 42 per cent have never had one and never would, 32 per cent say they've had one and it was wonderful, 17 per cent say they've never had one but are tempted to try, while 10 per cent say they've had one and it was awful. The sample so far is quite small at 166 so this could change.

It's not clear what prompted this poll other than a vicarious interest in these matters.

A previous poll by the website showed that 70 per cent of financial professionals work for more than 46 hours a week so perhaps there is some correlation between hours on the job and in-office affairs.


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