Feuding Fook Lam Moon brothers set to end court row

Long legal row over celebrity Fook Lam Moon chain could soon be concluded after sons of founder agree to sign a buy-out agreement

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 3:35am

The feuding brothers who run the celebrity Fook Lam Moon restaurants plan to sign a deal to end their court dispute over which should buy out the other, the High Court heard yesterday.

Shareholder and director Chui Pui-kun, fifth son of restaurant founder Chui Fook-chuen, and seventh son Chui Wai-kwan came to an agreement on Saturday, the court heard.

They will report tomorrow to the Court of First Instance's Mr Justice Anthony To Kwai-fung to confirm whether they have actually signed it.

They will then take part in a bidding exercise to determine who will buy out the other's shares and at what price. They are due back in court next Tuesday.

The Fook Lam Moon restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai are known for their Chinese cuisine and celebrity clientele.

Tycoons including Joseph Lau Luen-hung, Lee Shau-kee and Li Ka-shing are regulars.

The feud began with a defamation lawsuit brought against Chui Wai-kwan in November 2009. That led to both brothers filing petitions two years ago to buy out each other's shares.

Each alleged the company's affairs had been conducted in a manner prejudicial to their own interests. The court heard yesterday the settlement agreement did not include a resolution of the defamation lawsuit, but the brothers had "reached agreement in principle" to resolve the matter.

The two brothers each own 45 per cent of the company. The remaining 10 per cent is held by their sister Tsui Yau-hing and other family members.

Duncan Chui Tak-keung, son of Chui Pui-kun, said outside court that his father and uncle intended to resolve the matter by themselves without buying out minority shares.

He added: "The relationship between my father and my uncle had been very good. But somebody damaged their relationship in the past few years."

When the judge asked lawyers for Chui Pui-kun if they would consider buying out the minority shares if they lost in the bidding, the lawyers said they would. But the sister's lawyers said neither brother had approached her.

The court has heard properties are at the heart of the lawsuits. The issues overlapping in the three cases were the sale of a property in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, and a plan to obtain a banking facility of HK$50 million for the Johnston Road property that houses the Wan Chai restaurant.

Founder Chui Fook-chuen was head chef for the Hotung family in his teens. His catering business, Fook Kee, became Fook Lam Moon in 1953.

The first Fook Lam Moon restaurant opened in 1972. There are branches in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing and three in Japan.