Loh cousins behind Newcastle bid to legally split all business interests

Terence Loh (left) will transfer all shares in Bellagraph Nova Group to Nelson Loh for S$1 and resign as its director.
Terence Loh (left) will transfer all shares in Bellagraph Nova Group to Nelson Loh for S$1 and resign as its director.PHOTO: BT FILE

SINGAPORE - Novena Global Healthcare group co-founders and directors Terence Loh and Nelson Loh have agreed to legally separate all their business interests, Mr Terence Loh told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Oct 7).

Mr Terence Loh issued a statement saying a "separation agreement" was entered into between the cousins and former business partners on Oct 6. Mr Nelson Loh, whose whereabouts are unknown, did not issue his own statement.

Under the agreement, Mr Terence Loh will transfer all the shares he owns in Singapore-registered Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group to Mr Nelson Loh for $1 and resign as its director.

Mr Nelson Loh will transfer all the shares he owns in three corporate entities - Cayman Islands-registered Novena Global Healthcare Group and all its subsidiaries, Singapore-registered Dorr Global Healthcare International, and Singapore-registered Rock Star Advisors - to Mr Terence Loh for $1. He will also resign as director of these three entities.

“This is a mutually agreed and legally binding document which clearly separates the business interests that Nelson and I have been involved in since 2008," said Mr Terence Loh in the statement. "We have gone through many challenges together and the time has come now for each of us to chart our separate careers and pursuits.” 

The Lohs have agreed to complete the share transfers and resignations of directorships by Nov 5, provided there are no unforeseeable difficulties. Both parties will enter into a written agreement if an extension is required.

The separation agreement follows recent media coverage surrounding the Lohs and their web of companies. 

Last month, The Straits Times reported that accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) had made a police report regarding allegedly unauthorised audit signatures on some financial statements of Novena Global Healthcare Group.

In his statement, Mr Terence Loh said the separation agreement "provides clarity for me to resolve legal and corporate issues of the businesses transferred to me".

"In relation to the alleged forgery of the accounts of Novena Global Healthcare Group, I unequivocally state that I was not involved in the forgery. I have remained in Singapore and continue to be available to assist the Commercial Affairs Department."

BN Group on Tuesday night issued a statement saying that it “understands that Mr Terence Loh is trying to solve problems (arising) from Novena Global Healthcare’s incident, so we had mutually agreed that (he) should resign from BN group”.

It said: “Novena Global Healthcare is not a part of BN Group because we have not completed the merger before the Novena financial statement forgery news came out.

“BN group has never consolidated or is by any chance linked to Novena Global Healthcare and its forged financial statements,” it added.

Mr Terence Loh declined to comment on BN Group’s statement. “My focus is to do my best to preserve and enhance value for stakeholders in the corporate entities for which I am a director. The role that others have played in the current difficulties will become, in due course, clear,” he said.

BN Group chairman Evangeline Shen and co-founders Terence and Nelson Loh burst into the spotlight in August on their reported £280 million (S$491 million) takeover bid for English Premier League club Newcastle United.

But the ambitious bid soured quickly after doctored photographs featuring them and former US president Barack Obama, and inconsistencies in publicity materials surfaced.

A publicity picture (right) distributed by Bellagraph Nova Group that purports to show owners Evangeline Shen and Terence Loh meeting former US president Barack Obama at a private meeting in Paris. In reality, the photo of Mr Obama was taken at a Dec 14 charity event in Singapore sponsored by Novena Global Lifecare. PHOTOS: BELLAGRAPH NOVA GROUP

A photograph believed to be the original version (left) of one that was distributed to media by Bellagraph Nova Group in July 2020. PHOTOS: REUTERS/HANDOUT

“With reference to media statements relating to proposed corporate actions of the BN Group, the separation agreement cites Nelson Loh’s acknowledgement that Terence Loh, though a director in BN Group, was not involved in any business decisions within the company,” it added.

BN chairman Evangeline Shen had been quoted by the international media earlier this month as saying that BN Group was still pursuing a takeover bid of English Premier League club Newcastle United.

“Nelson acknowledges that... his (Terence Loh's) views and approval as a director of BN Group were not sought prior to” Ms Shen’s comments on the continued bid, the statement said.

Mr Nelson Loh also “acknowledges that he remains liable on all guarantees that he executed despite the separation of interests” as set out in the separation agreement.

Other firms linked to the Lohs have also come under scrutiny, including Axington, a Catalist-listed company owned by the Lohs.

The disclosures prompted the Singapore Exchange's regulatory arm to call for an assessment of its board members for their "experience, expertise, character and integrity", and sparked a slew of board member resignations, starting with independent director and former US ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar.

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