Sparks fly at AGM of Chemical Industries

Mr Mano Sabnani, founder and chairman of media and financial consultancy Rafflesia Holdings.
Mr Mano Sabnani, founder and chairman of media and financial consultancy Rafflesia Holdings.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Discussions were heated at the Chemical Industries (Far East)'s annual general meeting (AGM), as unhappy investors took issue with what they said was the firm's lack of shareholder value.

This dissatisfaction was first raised publicly by shareholder Mano Sabnani in a recent letter to The Business Times.

He said the industrial chemical supplier's core business is dwindling, while the full value of its assets is not being unlocked. He added that it has no clear succession plan.

Mr Sabnani told The Straits Times that shareholders had raised these issues during the AGM on Monday. About 50 people turned up, but they were hardly placated by the board's responses.

Mr Sabnani noted that Chemical Industries has always been helmed by Mr Lim Soo Peng, who is executive chairman and managing director, and is in his 80s.

"They told us it's the board that will deal with the succession issue, not the shareholders.

"But with the future of the company at stake, I think shareholders deserve to know what the plan is as well."

Mr Sabnani also said shareholders asked about the recent appointment of Mr Lim's third son, Dr Alex Lim, as a non-executive director.

Dr Lim is a medical doctor with "no experience in the business", said Mr Sabnani.

"It's unacceptable that the chairman recommended him and the nominating committee validated the appointment without trying to look for a suitable candidate from elsewhere," said Mr Sabnani.

"For a $100-million company that hasn't grown for some years, it's time to let go and let the professional people take over."

Jacqueline Woo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2015, with the headline 'Sparks fly at AGM of Chemical Industries'. Print Edition | Subscribe