Board issues could heat up Imperium Crown EGM

Sparks may fly when Catalist-listed Imperium Crown convenes its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) later this month.

Two substantial shareholders of the company, formerly known as Communication Design International (CDI), have called for the removal of the entire board of directors, citing dissatisfaction with the firm's performance and the need for new ideas to create shareholder value.

Ms Tan Geok Bee and Mr Yeo Wee Kok allege that the company reneged on an agreement to appoint Mr John Lyn as an executive director after the resignation of former chairman and chief executive Mark Lim in April. The company rejects the allegation.

Separately, the board said it has received requests from 14 other shareholders proposing that non-executive director David Bay, who founded marketing and communications business CDI, reclaim the post of CEO. Mr Bay has supported the proposal.

In a letter filed to the Singapore Exchange last week, Ms Tan and Mr Yeo wrote: "We are unable to support his appointment and are of the opinion that it is necessary to bring in new management to add a new perspective to how the business and operations of the company can be improved."

Mr Bay declined to comment yesterday. Singapore Management University marketing professor Tan Chin Tiong, who chairs the nominating committee, also declined to comment.

Imperium Crown, which shifted its focus to property investment in 2014, posted a net loss from continuing operations of $880,000 in the six months ended Dec 31. It reported a loss of $1.58 million in the same period a year ago.

Mr Lim, who resigned to focus on "other personal commitments" after less than a year at the helm of Imperium, sold 68.9 million of his shares to Ms Tan in April at 8.4 cents apiece. This raised her shareholding from zero to 14.1 per cent.

The spate of exchanges filed on the SGX and Mr Bay's expression of interest to return as chief executive came as a surprise to some shareholders.

Last June, Imperium Crown divested CDI to Mr Bay for $3.41 million, re-designating him as a non-executive director and granting him a termination payout of $400,000. At the same time, Mr Bay cut his stake in Imperium to 4.69 per cent, by selling 17 million shares to Chuan Leong Metalimpex, in which Mr Lim has a deemed interest, at 10 cents a share. Mr Bay was the highest-paid director last year, drawing $1.18 million, 61 per cent in the form of benefits.

The counter lost 0.3 cent to 8.2 cents yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Board issues could heat up Imperium Crown EGM'. Print Edition | Subscribe