Ex-Cordlife CEO says claims he left over pay rift are 'inaccurate'

Mr Jeremy Yee.
Mr Jeremy Yee.

Former Cordlife chief executive Jeremy Yee has refuted reports claiming that his abrupt resignation last month was over his demand to be paid a full 10 per cent of the firm's annual profits.

Mr Yee said in an e-mail statement via his lawyer yesterday: "That is inaccurate... I did not insist on the full 10 per cent. Rather, I wanted to know the formula or basis (of the payout) as decided and applied by the remuneration committee. I did not get an answer."

Cordlife chairman Ho Choon Hou and remuneration committee chairman Goh Jin Hian told a shareholders' dialogue session last week that a disagreement over the profit-sharing element of Mr Yee's pay package was one factor that led to his departure in March after 14 years with the cord blood-banking firm.

In his statement yesterday, Mr Yee clarified that while 10 per cent was the maximum share of last year's profits he could receive under his contract, the actual payout would be decided by the remuneration committee and he was "not in a position to insist on the full 10 per cent".

The committee made its decision in February, and Mr Yee resigned in March.

Mr Yee added that he was not given an option to re-negotiate his contract, contrary to what Dr Goh had told shareholders last week.

Mr Yee added that he was not given an option to re-negotiate his contract, contrary to what Dr Goh had told shareholders last week. "I was told that I could resign or the company would terminate my services. I chose to resign to pursue other interests."

Mr Yee, who is out of town, also noted in his statement that while Dr Ho has deemed he was "not the right candidate to take the company forward", his track record at Cordlife "speaks for itself".

Mr Yee had helmed Cordlife since June 2011, before its initial public offering (IPO) in 2012. The shares have risen from the IPO price of $0.495 to $1.525, as at yesterday's close.

While Cordlife posted a net loss of $2.1 million for the three months to March 31, a sharp fall from the $18.4 million profit a year earlier, the firm posted a net profit of $32 million for the full-year ended June 30, 2015, up from $8.5 million in 2011.

Mr Yee also addressed Dr Ho's claim that he had not been able to grow the company's core earnings, noting that over the years Cordlife has faced "intense competition" from rival cord blood-banking firms such as Cryoviva Singapore.

Mr Yee added that his remuneration was not calculated based on any distinction between profits earned from core and non-core operations.

He said: "As to any concerns about whether the company was able to grow 'core earnings' under my lead, I would only like to point out that in the chairman's message, as found in the company's latest annual report, he told the investing public and shareholders that the board was pleased with the company's year-on-year growth."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-Cordlife CEO says claims he left over pay rift are 'inaccurate''. Print Edition | Subscribe