Another CDL director quits over company's Sincere investment

Koh Thiam Hock resigned with immediate effect from Dec 28, 2020. PHOTO: CDL

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Another board member of City Developments Limited (CDL) has resigned citing concerns over the company's investment in Sincere Property Group.

The stepping down of independent non-executive director Koh Thiam Hock, 70, was announced in a late night filing on Tuesday (Dec 29). He resigned with immediate effect from Dec 28, after more than four years on the property giant's board.

In its filing, CDL said Mr Koh believed it was "most appropriate for him to now step down as a director" after having "shared his observations, concerns and suggestions on the group's investment in Sincere.

Mr Koh's resignation comes not long after former non-executive and non-independent director, Kwek Leng Peck, quit abruptly in October after more than 30 years in the role. Mr Kwek is the cousin of Kwek Leng Beng, the billionaire executive chairman of CDL who also helms the Hong Leong group of companies, and the uncle of CDL's group chief executive Sherman Kwek.

At the time, Mr Kwek cited disagreements with the board over CDL's investment in Sincere, as well as its continuing provision of financial support to the Chinese property group. He also had reservations with the company's approach in managing its London-based wholly-owned unit, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, which he concurrently resigned from as a director.

With Mr Koh's exit, CDL has appointed Carol Fong, group chief executive of CGS-CIMB Securities, as its new independent non-executive director with immediate effect as of Dec 29. She was also appointed a member of the remuneration committee on the company's board.

CDL said it looked forward to Ms Fong's "contribution of skills and diversity" to its board's current core competencies, in a separate filing with the Singapore Exchange on the same night.

Additionally, it announced a change in composition of its board and certain board committees following Mr Koh's resignation and Ms Fong's appointment. With effect from Dec 29, Chong Yoon Chou and Colin Ong Lian Jin have been appointed as members of CDL's audit and risk, and remuneration committees, respectively, while Philip Yeo has stepped down as a member of the remuneration committee. Sherman Kwek Eik Tse has been appointed as member of the board committee.

CDL's recent leadership changes come after the group's decision to acquire a 51.01 per cent stake in China-based real estate developer Sincere for 4.39 billion yuan (S$891.6 million) in April 2020. The group has since appointed Deloitte & Touche Financial Advisory Services to conduct a review into its investment in Sincere. It says Deloitte has "ascertained that there are good assets that the group can extract further value (from)".

Shares of CDL were trading up two cents or 0.25 per cent at $8.05 on 9.30am on Wednesday, following the announcement.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.