BCFC: Even More New Directors

With all the fuss over Gary Rowett changes at board level have slipped under the radar somewhat. Two days before the sacking of Rowett three new directors were appointed to the club’s board. This week, a further two names have been added – who are they?

Birmingham City FC

I’m using this link to confirm the directors of the club. However, for style reasons I’m using the eastern naming order for people from China (along with their Anglicised names when known), as that is how their name would appear normally – so Shui Cheong Ma is correctly Victor Ma Shui Cheong.

Who are the directors of BCFC?

There are now seven directors in place at club level.

They are: Panagiotis “Panos” Pavlakis, Victor Ma Shui Cheong, Zhao Wenqing, Yiu Chun Kong, Zhu Kai, Zheng Gannan and Wang Yao.

I think everyone knows who Panos is, so I’ll skip talking about him.

Victor Ma is a holdover from the previous regime, and was one of the truculent board of directors who brought in Ernst and Young against Carson’s wishes despite being married to Carson’s older sister.

Zhao Wenqing, Yiu Chun Kong and Zhu Kai are all members of the BIH board and their biographical details (what little there is) can be found on financial stock pages such as Reuters. There is further information (pdf link, information starts on page 14) on them and their remuneration packages on the circular sent to shareholders on November 25 regarding the AGM.

That leaves Zheng Gannan and Wang Yao, who were appointed this week. I’m going to be honest – as it stands I know nothing about either of these two people. The only thing I’ve heard is that they are mainland Chinese – and this lack of any biographical data worries me because they could be anyone.

Before anyone tries to google the two new names, it’s worth remembering that there are about 1.1billion people in China and as such it’s difficult to ensure the name you have found is the right person – a problem I have encountered many times in the past. Context is always important.

Documents will have been lodged with Companies House confirming new directors and once these are made public I will try to make some full profile pages on this website.

Hold on a moment, I thought there was a guy called Paul Suen involved?

Paul Suen Cho Hung is the owner of Trillion Trophy Asia Ltd. As I’ve been asked a few times, I’m going to repeat the chain here of how the ownership structure works for those who aren’t sure.

Paul Suen Cho Hung owns 100% of a British Virgin Islands company called Wealthy Associates International Ltd (WAI).

WAI own 100% of British Virgin Islands company Trillion Trophy Asia Ltd (TTA). As their own website says, TTA were formed purely to lend to and invest in Birmingham International Holdings.

TTA owns (as of December 20, 2016) 60.78% of Birmingham International Holdings Ltd (BIH).

BIH owns (as of December 20, 2016) 96.64% of Birmingham City PLC, which in turn owns 100% of Birmingham City FC.

Just to complicate matters further, Paul Suen Cho Hung owns a further 0.21% of Birmingham City PLC directly.

Still with me?

Okay, so who owns the other 40%ish of BIH? And the other 3%ish of BC PLC?

As with any listed company, those shares are owned by members of the public, and in BIH’s case are listed on the main board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKSE).

They’re the people who vote at general meetings on things proposed by the board. They don’t put money in, but what they can do (in theory) is help prevent a company from doing things that are not going to make money. When Ernst and Young were in control, the Receivers’ job was to run the company for the benefit of these shareholders rather than Carson.

Why is any of this important?

Two reasons.

Firstly, it’s important to know who is making the decisions. Paul Suen Cho Hung is the man who owns the shares and thus controls the votes at AGMs but isn’t on the board of directors anywhere – no doubt because he wants to keep his privacy. As much as I can respect the bloke doesn’t like having his picture taken, it still makes me sceptical.

Secondly, because part of the problems BCFC have faced in the past have been due to disagreements between directors and/or a lack of control over their actions. Someone has to stand up and ask questions if only to keep people honest; I’ve formally requested an interview with any of the six directors who isn’t Panos for just that reason.

The fact that this sort of stuff is happening without any notice makes me concerned, and the fact we don’t know anything about these people makes it worse. Hopefully the club will be able to rectify this soon, and I won’t be needed to stick my sticky beak in any further.

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