$112m: What tycoon is ordered to pay ex-wife

Ms Pauline Chai and Mr Khoo Kay Peng married in 1970, and had five children before splitting up in 2013. They have spent more than £6 million (S$10.5 million) between them on lawyers to fight their financial dispute, according to The Guardian.
Ms Pauline Chai and Mr Khoo Kay Peng married in 1970, and had five children before splitting up in 2013. They have spent more than £6 million (S$10.5 million) between them on lawyers to fight their financial dispute, according to The Guardian.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB/STAR
Ms Pauline Chai and Mr Khoo Kay Peng married in 1970, and had five children before splitting up in 2013. They have spent more than £6 million (S$10.5 million) between them on lawyers to fight their financial dispute, according to The Guardian.
Ms Pauline Chai and Mr Khoo Kay Peng married in 1970, and had five children before splitting up in 2013. They have spent more than £6 million (S$10.5 million) between them on lawyers to fight their financial dispute, according to The Guardian.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB/STAR

Divorce settlement to be in cash and property; long-running UK legal row said to cost $10.5m

LONDON • Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng, who owns a major stake in the Laura Ashley brand, has been ordered by a British court to pay £64 million (S$112 million) to his former wife as settlement for their divorce in a long-running legal row.

English judge David Bodey said in his ruling on Thursday that Ms Pauline Chai should receive the divorce settlement in the form of both cash and property, The Guardian newspaper reported.

The detailed judgment on how the matrimonial assets would be split is expected to be released soon, said the report.

"I just want to thank my superb legal team," Ms Chai said in an e-mailed statement to The Malay Mail Online news site after the court ruling.

Her lawyer, Ms Ayesha Vardag, said in the same statement: "This litigation has been long and arduous. It is a journey which has now ended in the affirmation of the principle of fair sharing. It emphasises that there is no place in England for discrimination between home maker and bread winner."

TRADITIONAL ROLE

I looked at marriage in the traditional way. He is the breadwinner and I stayed at home and looked after the children. It was a daunting task.

MS PAULINE CHAI,former wife of Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng.

 

Ms Chai, 68, who was crowned Miss Malaysia in 1969, had sought £100 million from the 78-year-old tycoon following their split after 43 years of marriage.

She claimed their assets were worth at least £205 million.

The two married in 1970 and had five children before splitting in 2013. They have spent more than £6 million between them on lawyers to fight their financial dispute, according to The Guardian.

Laura Ashley is a British fashion and interiors retailer best known for its floral frocks. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and controlled by Malaysia's MUI Group, which also controls Corus hotels.

Ms Chai said she had contributed to her former husband's success by being a "traditional" wife, and that they had made a sharing agreement entitling her to half of the family wealth.

"I looked at marriage in the traditional way," Ms Chai had told Justice Bodey at hearings in the family division of the High Court in London. "He is the breadwinner and I stayed at home and looked after the children. It was a daunting task."

Mr Khoo, who owns 44 per cent of Laura Ashley Holdings, argued that his former wife should receive £9 million, The Guardian reported.

He told the High Court at one point that his former wife reminded him of Mrs Imelda Marcos - widow of the Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and known for her extensive shoe collection. This was after Ms Chai told the court that she has 1,000 pairs of shoes.

Ms Chai also told the court she kept 700 pairs of her 1,000 pairs of shoes in Hertfordshire, England, to support her claim that their divorce case should be heard in London.

The tycoon had wanted the divorce proceedings heard in Kuala Lumpur, where Ms Chai would likely be awarded a less generous settlement.

In 2014, Ms Chai gained the upper hand in the divorce battle after London's High Court ruled it could hear the case. The court in January last year granted a preliminary divorce decree to Ms Chai, which entailed that she would be entitled to half of Mr Khoo's fortune once the marriage was officially dissolved.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline '$112m What tycoon is ordered to pay ex-wife'. Print Edition | Subscribe