Hong Kong’s ‘King of Penny Stocks’ to take over Birmingham City from Carson Yeung
Paul Suen Cho-hung’s ‘Trillion Trophy Asia’ to take over club
A little-known Hong Kong businessman called ‘the King of Penny Stocks’ is set to take over troubled football club Birmingham City.
An announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday revealed imprisoned Carson Yeung Ka-sing’s reign as owner is almost over.
The 61-page statement outlined how and when Paul Suen Cho-hung’s Trillion Trophy Asia (TTA) will complete their purchase of Birmingham, setting out details of a complex restructuring which includes a “capital reorganisation” to pave the way for TTA to take majority ownership.
Hong Kong-based Suen and Daniel Sue Ka-lok would be Birmingham’s directors.
They plan to make available HK$120 million for signing new players.
Birmingham fans may wonder who Suen is though, with little information on the new owner and seemingly no photos of him anywhere online.
After Yeung was jailed for money-laundering, they are understandably suspicious.
Hong Kong solicitor Will Giles, who co-wrote a book about Birmingham City under Yeung, Haircuts and League Cups, said he believed Suen had links with Yeung but admitted he knew little more about him – “all these relationships are so murky,” he added.
Chinese financial site ifeng.com called Suen ‘the King of Penny Stocks’ and the ‘shell king’ for his previous investment record.
Influential blogger Daniel Ivery, the co-author of ‘Haircuts’ and whose site Often Partisan has chronicled the woes of Birmingham under Yeung, was cautiously optimistic about the appointment.
He was the first to reveal Suen’s interest, in August last year.
He travelled to Hong Kong on a trip crowdfunded by fans last month and was surprised to find himself granted a meeting with Trillion Trophy Asia.
“Mr Suen is known for his competence in dealing with “distressed stocks”. These are companies that have issues with finance and/or governance and require restructuring to satisfy HKSE regulations,” he wrote in an in-depth post chronicling some of Suen’s previous business dealings.
“It’s my belief Mr Suen is involved with BIH precisely for this reason – that he has dealt with distressed stocks before and he sees a way to get BIH restructured, sold on – and a nice profit for himself.”
Ivery told the Birmingham Mail:
“I’m pleased to see there is finally a roadmap as it were of how and when things will come to a conclusion.
“While it seems like a degree in accountancy is needed to understand the announcement, the news we want to see – that Carson will be out of the box seat and TTA will be in it – is obvious.”
The Stock Exchange announcement contained some biographical detail: “Mr Suen, aged 55, holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Australia,” it said. “Mr Suen has extensive experience in strategic planning and corporate management of business enterprises in Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China.”
The announcement said Suen had stakes in three companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Enviro Energy, China Strategic and Courage Marine Group Limited.
In an open letter to supporters on Birmingham’s official club website, director Panos Pavlakis said: “As you all probably know by now, an announcement has been made to HKEx this morning on behalf of BIHL which has direct impact to our Birmingham City Football Club.
WATCH: Blogger Daniel Ivery goes in search of Paul Suen
“I also do understand that this is a very long and complicated announcement that it won’t be very straightforward to digest; after all, the length and the complexity of this document shows clearly the number of different corporation actions and settlements that need to take place in the very near future amongst different parties.
“However, one thing I can definitely say – after more than two years as Blues director – is that I truly feel and believe that this is one of the most important and significant steps for Birmingham City Football Club which could lead us further to the right direction.”
As per the statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the next stage is an EGM which will take place on July 22, with the proposed restructure set for September 12 and a resumption of trading in BIHL shares at the end of October.
Yeung, who first became involved in Birmingham in 2007, was jailed for six years after being found guilty of money laundering in 2014.
He is currently out on bail as he appeals the decision.
Birmingham, managed by Gary Rowett, finished 10th in the English second tier this season and were last in the Premier League in 2011.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse