Two Cordlife shareholders seek EGM on board seats

Bonvests and Tai Tak Estates taking unusual route to have their reps appointed

Two key shareholders of Cordlife Group have called for a share- holders' meeting to appoint two new board members to the firm.

Bonvests Holdings and Tai Tak Estates - which collectively own 22.5 per cent of Cordlife - have called for an extraordinary meeting on May 23 to appoint Mr Christopher Ho Han Siong and Mr Gary Xie Guojun as independent directors of the company.

Observers say it is very rare for shareholders to directly call for a meeting to secure board seats instead of writing to the board.

Sources told The Straits Times that the two shareholders had previously tried asking the board to consider their nominations but the board did not seem to be taking their requests seriously.

Cordlife said in a filing with the Singapore Exchange last night that it has yet to receive any letter from either of the shareholders on their intention to call for a shareholders' meeting. It added that it had received letters from Bonvests and Tai Tak putting forth nominations for appointments to the board.

"The nominating committee will be convening a meeting to discuss and review the suitability of the two candidates as non-independent non-executive directors of the company," it said in the statement.

The sources said Bonvests and Tai Tak had decided to seek board representation as they did not think it would be able to protect their interests sufficiently. They had raised questions over the sudden departure of former chief executive Jeremy Yee, and were not satisfied with the answers given.

It is said that they liked the way Mr Yee ran the mainboard-listed company, which started paying dividends and accumulated more cash when he was at the helm.

The firm said only that Mr Yee had stepped down abruptly last month "to pursue other interests". Sources saidMr Yee had been paid a seven-figure sum as bonus in February, shortly before his departure. The sudden turn of events in March had taken him by surprise.

Last week, Cordlife named Ms Tan Poh Lan as executive director and group chief operating officer.

Observers said Mr Yee's exit seemed to follow a series of acquisitions by Kunlum Investment Holding, a wholly owned unit of LH Capital I, which now owns 21.4 per cent of Cordlife. Cordlife has agreed to hold a dialogue with minority shareholders at the request of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore to "address all concerns of shareholders" arising from Mr Yee's resignation. Its shares closed 2.34 per cent lower at $1.46 yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'Two Cordlife shareholders seek EGM on board seats'. Subscribe