The Independent Commission Against Corruption has arrested a vice-president of a securities and investment firm for allegedly seeking HK$2 million as a bribe to facilitate an ill-fated hostile takeover.
The anti-graft body revealed only the alleged corruption case and did not identify any parties concerned. It said the arrested person was released on ICAC bail and inquiries were continuing.
The arrest comes closely after a much-contested takeover bid for franchised bus operator turned property firm China Motor Bus (CMB) which fell through last month.
'The ICAC commenced investigation upon receiving a corruption report, alleging that a senior executive of the securities and investment firm had solicited an advantage from a director of an investment management company in connection with a proposed takeover of a listed company,' the ICAC said.
Last month, investment bank Yu Ming Investment Management offered in vain to acquire the entire share capital of CMB on behalf of Asia Time Investments.
Peter Fung Yiu-fai and Tony Fung Wing-cheung are directors of both Yu Ming and Asia Time.
The other director at Yu Ming is Warren Lee Wa-lun, who told Business Post he had no knowledge of the allegation.
An ICAC investigation found the arrested person had allegedly solicited HK$2 million from the director of the investment management company, which was equivalent to 2 per cent to 3 per cent of its profit from the takeover bid. Asia Time was planning to charge CMB a fee of HK$100 million upon a successful takeover.
The ICAC said the bribe was allegedly for the arrested person to persuade a client to sell his shares in the listed company to the investment management company. However, the ICAC said the proposed takeover did not materialise.
Yu Ming was proposing to acquire CMB shares at one HK cent each, then strip CMB's assets and distribute dividend payouts equivalent to HK$90.59 per share. The offer collapsed due to poor acceptance.
There are four major CMB shareholders: Chee Ying-cheung with a 9.8 per cent stake, Chan Kwan-shat with 12.8 per cent, technology firm E-New Media Holdings with 4.37 per cent and a deceased shareholder with 8 per cent.
CMB is controlled by the Ngan family, which holds about a 43 per cent interest.