Midland set to sue shareholder Apex over investor row

Developer hits back at shareholder accusations that family-run management is 'overpaid'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 1:07am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 1:46am

Midland Holdings will sue Apex Benchmark, its second largest shareholder, for damaging the company's reputation, said deputy chairman Angela Wong Ching-yi yesterday.

"We will take action next week as their accusations are untrue and will hurt our corporate image," she said after the company's special general meeting.

The move came after Apex's severe criticism of Midland's management. It called for the meeting to remove Angela Wong and her mother Metty Tang Mei-lai, who is Midland's executive director and the wife of chairman Freddie Wong Kin-yip. Apex also asked for a cap on the salaries of "overpaid" directors.

Mau Wang-bong, chief operating officer of Apex, said the chances of these resolutions being approved were slim.

"But we hope it will increase awareness of minority shareholders and they will closely monitor management. What we want is the company to make profit," he said.

Apex said the total remuneration of the Wong family was "excessive" as the amount paid to the chairman, his wife and daughter was about 60 per cent of the total paid to all directors.

Last year, remuneration for the Wong family amounted to HK$17.79 million, about 56.61 per cent of the total HK$31.42 million for all directors.

Apex, which holds a 10.54 per cent stake in Midland, proposed a cap of HK$3 million for individual directors and said the combined basic pay for all directors should not exceed HK$14 million in a given year.

Angela Wong said the firm's remuneration policy was performance-linked. "The total remuneration for all directors was cut 57 per cent last year in line with the company's results," she said.

Midland last year reported a loss of HK$204.03 million, its biggest loss since listing in 1995.

The fund has questioned the role of executive director Tang and claims her salary does not match her role and responsibilities. It has also urged Wong to step down given the firm's poor performance since her appointment.

Wong, however, said the firm has trimmed losses by 50 per cent in the first half after she restructured the sales team.