Paul Suen and the West Midlands Rich List

The Birmingham Mail published an article today about the relative wealth of the Chinese owners of the four west midlands clubs. All four featured in the Birmingham Post Rich List which calculates the net wealth of people connected to the West Midlands.

Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Paul Suen Cho Hung, owner of Trillion Trophy Asia and majority shareholder in Birmingham International Holdings was revealed to have a personal fortune of £440million – somewhat dwarfed by Guo Guangchang (Wolves, £4.4billion), Guochuan Lai (WBA £2.8billion) and Tony Xia Jiantong (Aston Villa, £990million).

I will admit that I’m somewhat sceptical of rich lists. Without access to someone’s full financial details, the best that can be done is guesswork. If a person’s funds are tied up in family trusts and companies where the accounts are unavailable, then information becomes much less reliable.

One would think that Paul Suen would be a tricky customer too – after all, there are no photos of him online. However, the good bit is because he does so much of his business in public listed companies, we have an idea of what he owns.

I spent some time this afternoon going through disclosures to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to come up with this:

Paul Suen Cho Hung Shareholdings

Mr Suen currently owns shareholdings in six companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which I have listed above.

The percentages owned are taken from disclosures made to the HKSE. Stock market capitalisation a very basic way to value a company – number of shares in circulation multiplied by share price. I’ve then multiplied that stock market cap by the percentage owned, and then converted into GBP using today’s exchange rate which is 9.78HKD – 1 GBP.

With this in mind, we can see that Mr Suen owns shares which are on paper worth £374million. However, I think people should also bear in mind that according to the stock market his shares in Birmingham International Holdings alone are worth £187million – which is laughable when you consider their only asset is Birmingham City FC which is not worth anything close to that.

In my mind, what this exercise does is to reinforce how pointless these lists are – because paper wealth is a bit of a fiction.

Speaking personally, the only thing that really counts is how much someone is willing to put into a club and how far they’re willing to agree debts. Blues have spent circa £7million in this transfer window which I think demonstrates a big commitment to a club which only turned over just over double that last year.

The other thing that intrigues me is why he purchased BIH. From checking through these stock holdings it’s possible to see that he purchased another listed company around the same time as BIH (EPI Holdings) and that he completed another purchase on Monday (ITC Corporation).

The ITC Corporation deal wasn’t cheap either – roughly £60million paid out for shares which are worth slightly more than that.

Clearly Mr Suen is a man with money to spend. While I’m not sure of his actual net wealth, I’m feeling hopeful that his business dealings reflect someone who will be able to look after Birmingham City.


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