THE tumultuous fortunes of Wah Kwong Shipping Holdings, one of Hong Kong's oldest bulk and tanker shipping companies, have taken another turn after a Belgian company took control of the troubled carrier last week. Bocimar Far East Holdings, a subsidiary of Belgium's Companie Maritime Belge (CMB), became the biggest shareholder in Wah Kwong after buying a 20.58 per cent stake in the carrier from Singapore's SembCorp Logistics. Bocimar Far East now owns 27.8 per cent of Wah Kwong. The latest twist in the Wah Kwong saga follows two years of upheaval since shipping tycoon Chao Tsong-yea resigned as chairman and director, sparking a bitter fight for control of the company. Although no official announcement has been made, CMB is likely to replace incumbent chairman Kenneth Gaw, the 28-year-old son of Anthony Gaw Teong-chan, chairman of Pioneer Industries International (Holdings), who took the helm of the company on March 25 from Frank Chao Sze-bang. Anthony Gaw died on February 8. CMB, founded in 1895, is listed on the Brussels Stock Exchange. It provides liner, bulk and crude oil and gas transportation services. 'The board looks forward to working with CMB group and believes there are significant opportunities for co-operation with the CMB group in the future which will be to the overall benefit of the group,' Wah Kwong said in a statement. Frank Chao became Wah Kwong's chairman in August 1997 after the departure of Chao Tsong-yea. His brother, George Chao Sze-kwong, became the company's deputy chairman. Following the management change, a row erupted between developer Cecil Chao Sze-tsung and his mother, on one side, and the two brothers, Frank and George, and their sister Mary Chao Sze-Leung, over control of the company. The dispute went before the courts last year as Cecil Chao and his mother sought the appointment of a committee to run Wah Kwong. The dispute was subsequently settled in September, but no details were made public. As of February 22, Frank Chao and family held a 4.79 per cent interest in Wah Kwong while George Chao and family held a 15.63 per cent stake. As such, both brothers are expected to be made non-executive directors in the company. 'However, they will not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company,' a source said, adding George Chao was expected to be allowed to sit on the executive board. The source said Wah Kwong director Avraham Malamud had been appointed as Wah Kwong's new managing director. Wah Kwong was established in 1972 and listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in February 1973. The company began by acquiring the Chao family's nine subsidiaries and three associates, which together owned 11 vessels. This represented a portion of Chao Tsong-yea's family shipping interests. According to Rodskog Shipbrokers, Wah Kwong's fleet of 20 vessels, including three being built in the mainland, Japan and South Korea, had an aggregate value of US$511.5 million as of March 31.