Writ questions status of Seapower directors

Kenneth Ko

A ROW is brewing among the management of Seapower International Holdings over the appointments of new directors and the suspension of a director's executive functions.

The dispute came to light yesterday as Janville Ltd, a shareholder of Seapower, filed a writ in the High Court challenging those appointments and the suspension, which were part of resolutions passed at a Seapower board meeting on February 7.

Janville, with more than 10 million Seapower shares, is believed to be a private company controlled by Seapower shareholder and director Choi Sai-leung and his wife Hui Kam-yip, also a director of the company.

Based on the latest figures, Mr and Mrs Choi together own about 23.4 per cent of Seapower's issued share capital.

At the February 7 meeting, resolutions were passed to appoint Leung Shu-wing and Owen Leung Chung-ping as directors of Seapower and to suspend the executive functions of current director James Luk Yu-king.

It is understood that Mr Choi and his wife had objected to these resolutions at the meeting.


The board meeting was chaired by Seapower executive chairman and managing director Francis Yuen Tin-fan. Mr Yuen's wife, Rose Lee, also sat as a Seapower director at the meeting.

In the writ, Janville contested the appointments and the suspension resolutions.

It also sought the determination of the court whether Ms Lee's position as director and Mr Yuen's position as chairman of the board meeting were valid.

Seapower made an announcement last night confirming these legal proceedings, but said these proceedings were not expected to have any material effect on the day-to-day business of Seapower.


Analysts said the focus of the row could be whether representatives from Kee Shing (Holdings) should be allowed to become directors of Seapower.

Mr Leung Shu-wing and Mr Owen Leung are chairman and director of Kee Shing, respectively.


Kee Shing bought 60 million Seapower shares, representing a 19.3 per cent stake, in November for $187.5 million, and since then it has sought to join the Seapower board.

Mr Yuen, whose chairmanship at the February 7 board meeting was being challenged, owns 51 per cent of Tien Fung Investment, which holds 18.7 per cent of Seapower.

Larry Yung Chi-kin, head of CITIC Pacific, owns a 3.2 per cent stake and tycoon Li Ka-shing owns a nine per cent interest in Seapower.


Mr Yuen, a former chief executive of the stock exchange, was the talk of the town when he left the exchange in late 1991 to join private concern Dah Chong Hong, a unit under CITIC Pacific.

His swift departure from Dah Chong Hong added colour to his legendary career. He joined Seapower as managing director and a substantial shareholder in February 1992.

Seapower's core businesses include property, cold-storage operations, securities, bullion and commodities broking, merchant banking, printing and publication.