Stamford Land and Mano Sabnani reach 'amicable settlement' over defamation suit

SINGAPORE - The directors of Stamford Land have arrived at an "amicable settlement" with minority shareholder Mano Sabnani, whom the company had earlier sued for alleged defamation, the parties announced late on Saturday (Oct 6).

Mr Sabnani, who filed his defence one week ago maintaining that the statements he had made about Stamford Land's corporate governance and investor relations were justified and not defamatory, has since agreed to retract his comments.

"It was not Mr Sabnani's intention to cause any distress to the board and management, and he offers his sincere apologies for the distress caused," the company said in a joint statement in a Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing with Mr Sabnani on Saturday.

"Stamford Land has agreed to move on and will continue to engage constructively with all shareholders for the advancement of the interests and the greater good of the (sic) Stamford Land," the company added.

Both parties thanked the SGX for facilitating the settlement and "bring this unhappy episode to an end".

The Stamford Land defamation suit had been closely followed by the Singapore investing community.

On Sept 7, the company and its directors filed a writ of summons against Mr Sabnani, alleging that he had published defamatory statements in a July 27 Facebook post, and in a letter published by The Business Times on July 31, in which he recounted the proceedings of Stamford Land's annual general meeting (AGM).

In a separate statement on Saturday, the bourse operator said that its regulatory unit, SGX RegCo, "firmly believes in and encourages constructive and robust discussions" between shareholders and directors during shareholder meetings.

It also flagged: "While these meetings are subject to qualified privilege, it is important for all parties concerned to note that qualified privilege may not extend to comments that are published or quoted on social or mainstream media."

SGX RegCo is working with other bodies to develop a best practices guide dealing with conduct at AGMs.