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Corporate Governance Case Studies

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Corporate Governance Case Studies Edited by Mak Yuen TeenForeword Strong corporate governance and transparency are critical for business success. For investors, good governance is a good indicator of well managed, resilient businesses. For companies, a measure of success is the ability to internalise the values, spirit and purpose behind governance rules. While the governance standards in Singapore have brought us to where we are today, we have some way to go if we want to be seen as leaders in this area. Regulators, directors, management, investors, industry groups and professional bodies all have a part to play. The collective efforts of all these stakeholders will be needed to sustain the drive to improve governance and support the government’s vision of positioning Singapore as a global financial centre. This inaugural collection of teaching case studies aims to raise awareness and promote thoughtful discussions on key corporate governance issues in companies across several markets, particularly in Asia. The authors have endeavoured to present the facts and issues based on publiclyavailable information covering matters such as the board, board committees, ownership structure, corporate governance rules and regulations, auditors and remuneration. Following each case study are discussion questions which we hope will facilitate a robust exchange of views to help lead efforts to advance corporate governance standards and best practices in Singapore. We would like to thank Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen for supervising and editing the case studies produced by students of the NUS Business School. We trust you will find the cases a good starting point to study governance issues that may be relevant to your professional roles. Deborah Ong FCPA (Aust.) President – Singapore CPA Australia April 2012Preface In early 2010, I started coordinating and teaching the Corporate Governance and Ethics course at the NUS Business School. This is a compulsory thirdlevel course for all students in the BBA (Accountancy) programme at the school. I thought that a great way for the students to learn is through case studies. Unfortunately, there are very few case studies in corporate governance, and even fewer which are Singapore or Asian focused. The lack of good Asian case studies in corporate governance has also been raised by practising directors and others involved in training programmes for directors. I therefore decided to incorporate a case writing component into the course by getting the students to form groups and write comprehensive cases as part of their course assessment. This publication contains the abridged versions of 18 of these cases. The cases are diverse in many ways. Eight of these cases involve companies listed in Singapore, including some foreign companies. Five involve other Asian companies in Hong Kong, India and Malaysia, while the remaining five involve nonAsian companies. However, this is a simplification as the cases often cross national boundaries. For example, there is a bribery case which involves a Singapore company and Apple in the US. The case on the failed merger between SGX and ASX is really an international case. The reason why I also included nonAsian cases is because, while there are differences in rules, regulations and norms and unique corporate governance issues in Asia, the international cases allow the learning of differences around the world and also a comparison with Singapore and Asia. In any case, with globalisation, executives, accountants and regulators will increasingly need to understand corporate governance from a more international perspective. The cases are also diverse in terms of issues raised. They illustrate that corporate governance is much more than about just rules and regulations or about legal duties and liabilities of directors. At the risk of simplification, four of the cases deal with mergers and acquisitions, two with privatisation, three with bribery, ethics and corporate responsibility, three with boardroom issues or conflicts, and five deal with corporate governance crises or scandals. However, each case inevitably touches on other issues, including regulatory frameworks; roles of directors, auditors, and regulators; executive and director compensation; shareholder activism; and so on. It should be noted that the cases are written for the purpose of generating discussion and are intended to be used for analysis. Therefore, they do not include analysis or interpretation of the situations. Teaching notes which include some analysis and interpretation have been prepared. These teaching notes are only available to the instructor or facilitator using the cases for teaching or training. I believe the abridged versions will be useful for qualifying and continuing education programmes for directors, CFOs, accountants, regulators and other professionals. Although the copyright for the cases resides with CPA Australia and me, it is not our intention to restrict the use of these cases or to profit from the copyright. Our general principle is that programmes which are commercial in nature should pay to use these cases so that funds can be generated to further this initiative or benefit charity. We would be open to free use of these cases in programmes which are noncommercial in nature, subject to permission being obtained from CPA Australia or me. Any surpluses generated from the publication of the cases will either be donated to charity or reinvested into this initiative. I would like to thank CPA Australia for its generous support of this project. I am also grateful to the students who helped in editing these cases and, of course, to the students who helped in preparing the initial cases. They are acknowledged in the first footnote of each case. I would also like to specifically mention the capable support provided by the project manager, Kellynn Khor, who is doing a BBA degree in finance at the NUS Business School and a Master of Public Policy degree at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. I hope you will find this collection to be useful. Mak Yuen Teen, PhD, FCPA (Aust.) Associate Professor of Accounting NUS Business School National University of Singapore April 2012Content Singapore Cases C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation 6 In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology 17 Japan Land: The Setting Sun 27 JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple 37 Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal 48 The Battle for Parkway 56 The Failed SGXASX “Merger” 68 The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside 80 Asia Cases CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal 90 Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal 98 GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 106 RINO: Reversing into Trouble 122 The Satyam Fiasco 131 The Sime Darby Financial Fiasco 142 World Cases Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment 152 Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico 162 HP: The Mark Hurd Saga 175 MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft 184C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation C.K. Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation Case Overview In 2009, Tang Wee Sung, the majority shareholder of C.K. Tang Limited, along with his brother, Tang Wee Kit, finally succeeded in privatising the company after two failed attempts in 2003 and 2006. The major controversy surrounding the privatisation was the valuation of Tangs Plaza, a commercial property located in the prime shopping district of Orchard Road. Minority shareholders cited its undervaluation as the primary reason for rejecting the cash offer by the Tang brothers. The minority shareholders felt that the redevelopment potential of the property should have been taken into consideration. In 2011, the Tang brothers failed in their attempt to cancel out all remaining shares held by minority shareholders through a capital reduction exercise. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the divergence of interests between controlling and minority shareholders, the manifestation of this divergence in a privatisation situation, the different methods of privatisation which can be used and the extent to which they protect the interests of minority shareholders, and the role of the board, audit committee, independent financial adviser, regulator and shareholders in a privatisation. This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Chew Yi Ling, Goh Theng Hoon and Thomas Sim Joo Huat under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Koh Kian Sin under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 6C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation About C.K. Tang C.K. Tang Limited is a Singaporebased company founded by Tang Choon Keng in 1932. The company is in the business of departmental store retailing and general merchandising. Since 1958, the company has been operating at its flagship building, Tangs Plaza, along Orchard 1 Road . C.K. Tang is a company characterised by the presence of a major controlling shareholder. For example, in June 2003, then CEOChairman Tang Wee Sung, the second son of the founder, owned 69.95 per cent of 2 the company’s shares . In 1975, C.K. Tang was listed on the then Singapore Stock Exchange, 3 which later became the Singapore Exchange (SGX) . However, since 2003, the Tang family had been trying to delist and privatise the 4 company . After two failed attempts, the Tang family finally succeeded 5 and the company was delisted on 24 August 2009 . In 2011, C.K. Tang made an offer to about 500 minority shareholders who had held on to the shares of the delisted company. This offer represented a 15 per cent premium over its fair value and well above the price offered to other shareholders for the delisting in 2009. However, some of these minority shareholders were still unwilling to take up the share buyback 6 offer, and were holding out for a better offer . Board of Directors During the third and successful privatisation attempt, the board of C.K. Tang was chaired by Ernest Seow, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partner. Apart from Seow, there were three other directors with experience in accounting, business management and the retail industry. Among the four directors, three of them were serving as nonexecutive independent directors. During the company’s history, there was at least one Tang family member 7 on the board . However, in 2008, Tang Wee Sung, CEO and the majority 8 shareholder of the company since 1987 , stepped down from the board, after he was alleged to be involved in an illegal organ trading scandal. 7C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation With this development, for the first time in the company’s history, there was no Tang family member on the board. According to C.K. Tang’s Corporate Governance Report in 2009, the board would be responsible for enhancing longterm shareholder value and the overall management of the Group. This includes reviewing the Group’s performance, approval of corporate strategies and promoting high standards of corporate governance. The board delegated some of its functions to the board committees, namely the audit committee, nominating committee and remuneration committee. First Privatisation Attempt: Scheme of Arrangement On 29 October 2003, Tang Wee Sung offered minority shareholders 9 S0.42 per share via a scheme of arrangement . This represented a premium of about 35 per cent above the average closing price over the 10 last five trading days . This price also meant a 19.2 per cent discount 11 against the company’s net tangible assets as at 30 September 2002 . However, the resolution failed to pass, as the shareholders felt the offer price was too low and wanted more information on the company’s 12 prospects . Second Privatisation Attempt: Unconditional Cash Offer In December 2006, Tang Wee Sung and his brother Tang Wee Kit, 13 offered shareholders S0.65 per share through Kerith Holdings , a company equally controlled by the brothers. This second attempt was in 14 the form of a voluntary unconditional cash offer . The S0.65 per share offer reflected a 16.1 per cent premium to C.K. Tang’s latest closing price at that time. It also represented a 9.4 per cent premium to the company’s net asset value, based on its annual report for the financial year 15 ending 31 March 2006 . When the offer deadline expired, insufficient 16 acceptances had been received . The reason was widely believed to be 17 the undervaluation of the commercial property Tangs Plaza . As a result, the company continued its listing on SGX. 8C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation On 15 July 2008, at an Annual General Meeting (AGM), minority shareholders questioned the board about the company’s financial losses, as well as its plans to delist the company from SGX. The board declared that a privatisation exercise is solely the decision of the majority shareholder. The board said it owed a fiduciary duty to shareholders, 18 which is to look after the business of the company. Attempts to vote against standard resolutions such as advance payment of directors’ fees 19 were defeated, because of the Tang family’s majority holdings . Third Privatisation Attempt: Voluntary Delisting On 8 May 2009, the Tang brothers made their third privatisation attempt through an investment holding vehicle, Tang UnityThree, which submitted a delisting proposal to the company. The remaining shareholders were 20 offered S0.83 per share , which represented a 22 per cent premium over the company’s last traded share price of S0.68 prior to the offer, and a 21 per cent discount to the firm’s net asset per share price of 21 S1.05 as of 31 December 2008 . The board recommended that the minority shareholders accept the offer, based on an evaluation of the 22 offer provided by the independent financial adviser PwC . At an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held on 31 July 2009, minority shareholders questioned if the offer was reasonable, given that the shares had closed at a price above the offer at that point in time. Nonetheless, the board retained its recommendation, saying that market 23 prices typically varied . This was despite earlier statements by the Tangs saying that the privatisation offer was to allow shareholders to monetise the value of their investments at a premium over its historical trading 24 prices . Shareholders also reproached the directors for failing to clarify with the Tangs about their redevelopment plans for Tangs Plaza after its privatisation. They expressed disappointment with the independent directors, saying that they had insufficiently analysed the issue. 9C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation Doubts were raised about the independence and neutrality of the CEO of the company at the time, Foo Tiang Sooi, because he was personally related to Tang Wee Sung. Foo had worked under Tang from 1999 to 25 2006. He and Tang were also former schoolmates . However, he 26 dismissed these facts as irrelevant . Foo also added that he was related to the shareholder who posed the question, but this fact was irrelevant 27 as well . Another shareholder called for a vote of noconfidence against the board chairman. After consulting with legal advisors, the board rejected the motion, with the chairman saying that the action was an attempt to 28 frustrate the meeting . Even as shareholders tried to probe further, the 29 chairman called for the vote to be taken . The resolution to privatise the company was passed with 96.25 per cent of votes in favour of the 30 proposal . Key Area of Controversy: Tangs Plaza The Singapore Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the Code) governs all takeover activity in Singapore involving public companies. Under Rule 26.2(a) of the Code, “a property which is occupied for purposes of the business must be valued at the open market value for its existing use”. However, Rule 26.2(c) provides for the case in which “such a property is valued for an alternative use. For such a case, the costs of conversion 31 and/or adaptation should be estimated and shown” . During all three privatisation attempts by the Tang brothers, the offer 32 price reflected an undervaluation of Tangs Plaza . The board stood by its stand of valuing the property according to its “existing use”, as there was no intention of deviating from it. One investor had brought up the fact that in C.K. Tang’s 2007 annual report, a property valuation report had taken into consideration the redevelopment potential of Tangs Plaza. In response, the board’s legal adviser, Yeo Wee Kiong, said it was not 33 legally required to put a redevelopment valuation on the report . 10C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation PwC stated that the property was valued at S340 million on 25 May 34 2009 . This was much lower than other nearby sites. In contrast, minority shareholders contested that the site was easily worth at least S400 million, according to an independent valuer. This value did not take into account the potential value arising from redeveloping the site, and did not consider the potential value from subdividing the site into small retail 35 units and leasing them to specialty tenants . The board, however, stated that regulators had told the directors that any such redevelopment was 36 not applicable . Unhappiness Amongst Minority Shareholders Several shareholders were unhappy about the perceived undervaluation of the Tangs Plaza site, as well as the fact that the offer price was less than the company’s net asset per share. Thus, they met with the Securities 37 Investors Association (Singapore) (SIAS) . SIAS stated that it objected to the exit price and that the minority shareholders had been treated with 38 39 no dignity . SIAS had also called for regulators to intervene . Ten shareholders had also signed a petition to SGX and the Ministry of Finance questioning the basis of the valuation on the property’s “existing 40 use” , in a bid to convince the regulators to allow them to obtain an 41 alternative valuation report . SGX’s reply was that C.K. Tang’s move to delist was purely commercial, and that the company had complied with 42 the listing and delisting rules . The Capital Reduction Exercise On 19 August 2011, C.K. Tang embarked on a capital reduction exercise to cancel out all remaining shares held by minority shareholders. C.K. Tang would pay each investor S1.30 per share, which represents an increase of 56.6 per cent on the exit offer in 2009. PwC had indicated that 43 the S1.30 offer is 15 per cent above its fair market value . The rationale behind the exercise was to reduce administrative burdens. Additionally, the company reaffirmed that there are no plans for the redevelopment of Tangs Plaza, and the buyout had no hidden agenda. 11C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation However, only 39 per cent of the minority shareholders in attendance agreed to the price for the share buyback, far below the 75 per cent required. Some minority shareholders cited the undervaluation of the 44 Tangs Plaza property as the reason for rejecting the offer . C.K. Tang would have to do more to convince these shareholders for the buyout to succeed. Discussion Questions 1. In cases of companies where there are controlling shareholders, explain why the interest of controlling and minority shareholders may diverge, using the CK Tang case as an example. 2. Should independent directors be primarily concerned with the interests of the minority shareholders 3. Evaluate the independence of C.K. Tang’s board during the third privatisation attempt. Do you think this affected the actions of the board during the privatisation process 4. Do you believe that the basis of valuation was fair Explain. 5. With regards to the privatisation episode, suggest improvements that would help protect minority shareholders in the future. 6. C.K. Tang used three different privatisation methods. Explain how these different methods work and the pros and cons of these different methods from the viewpoints of the shareholder(s) wanting to take a company private versus minority shareholders who may prefer that the company remain listed. 12C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation Endnotes: 1 Lee, S.S. “No Tangs for the Memories.” 2 August 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 2 Ng, Baoying. “Move to delist CK Tang passed despite protest by minority shareholders”. 31 July 2009. Channel NewsAsia. 20 March 2010. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/ view/446038/1/.html 3 Yahya, Yasmine. “CK Tang offers 83 Singapore Cents Per Share to delist from SGX”. 8 May 2009. Channel Newsasia. 17 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/ view/427860/1/.html 4 Lee, S.S. “No Tangs for the Memories.” 2 August 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 5 “Company Report: CK Tang Ltd”, 2009. Bureau van Dijk Electronic Publishing. Online. Osiris. 2 April 2010. 6 Kwok, Jonathan. “Delisted C.K. Tang dangles fresh carrot.” 19 August 2011. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 18 December 2011. 7 The Business Times. “Youngest Tang brother may take over at CK Tang.” 6 September 2008. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 8 Ong, Isabel. “Tangs”, 3 March 2009. National Library Board. 17 December 2011. http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP117020090311.html 9 Kalpana, R. “Chairman offers to take CK Tang private.” 30 October 2003. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 10 The, H.L. “A reasonable case for holding on to CK Tang.” 30 October 2003. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 11 Lim, K. “Monday meeting will decide Tang’s future.” 7 February 2004. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 12 Lee, S.S. “Shareholders thwart CK Tang bid to go private.” 10 February 2004. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 13C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation 13 Kalpana, R. “CK Tang chief unveils second privatisation bid.” 9 December 2006. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 Lee, S.S. “Second offer for CK Tang fails to get enough support.” 3 February 2007. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 17 Goola, W. “Big Money: CK Tang’s value hinges on retailing.” 18 December 2006. The Edge Singapore. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 18 Ibid. 19 Lee, S.S. “Unhappy CK Tang shareholders grill board.” 16 July 2008. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 20 Tay, M. “C.K. Tang launches third privatisation bid.” 9 May 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 21 Ibid. 22 Lee, J. “Bid to delist CK Tang hits another road block.” 18 July 2009. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 23 Lee, S.S. “No Tangs for the Memories.” 2 August 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 24 Tay, M. “CK Tang launches third privatization bid.” 9 July 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 25 Lee, J. “CK Tang going private, 34 years on”. 1 August 2009. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid. 29 Lee, S.S. “No Tangs for the Memories.” 2 August 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 14C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation 30 Ng, Baoying. “Move to delist CK Tang passed despite protest by minority shareholders”, 31 July 2009. Channel NewsAsia. 20 March 2010. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/ view/446038/1/.html 31 Tan, Cheng Han. Walter Woon on Company Law. Revised 3rd ed. Singapore: Sweet Maxwell, 2009. 32 Goola, W. “Big Money: CK Tang’s value hinges on retailing.” 18 December 2006. The Edge Singapore . Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 33 Chow, K. “Triumph of the minority; Privatisation bid on hold as small investors buy time.” 18 July 2009. Today (Singapore). Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 34 Lee, J. “CK Tang undervalued, claim some shareholders.” 14 July 2009. The Business Times. 24 March 2010. 35 Teo, J. “CK Tang urged to work out offer price with investors.” 30 July 2009. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 36 Lee, J. “CK Tang going private, 34 years on”. 1 August 2009. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 37 Lee, J. “CK Tang undervalued, claim some shareholders.” 14 July 2009. The Business Times. 24 March 2010 38 Lee, J. “CK Tang going private, 34 years on”. 1 August 2009. The Business Times. Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 39 Ng, Baoying. “Minority shareholders of CK Tang to appeal delisting proposal to SGX, MAS”, 13 July 2009. Channel Newsasia. 20 March 2010 http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/ singaporebusinessnews/view/442135/1/.html 40 Lee, J. “CK Tang undervalued, claim some shareholders.” 14 July 2009. The Business Times. 24 March 2010 41 Chow, K. “CK Tang independent directors explain valuation method.” 15 July 2009. Today (Singapore). 24 March 2010. 15C.K.Tang: The Fight towards Privatisation 42 Chow, K. “Triumph of the minority; Privatisation bid on hold as small investors buy time.” 18 July 2009. Today (Singapore). Online. Factiva. 24 March 2010. 43 Kwok, Jonathan. “Delisted C.K. Tang dangles fresh carrot.” 19 August 2011. The Straits Times. Online. Factiva. 18 December 2011. 44 Enriquez, Millet. “CK Tang shareholders unmoved by latest offer.” 27 October 2011. Channel Newsasia. 18 December 2011. http://www. channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/1162107/1/.html 16In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Case Overview 1 Listed on the Singapore Exchange in March 2005 , Asia Water T echnology Ltd (AWT) faced problems such as rapidly deteriorating operating cash flow problems and a breach of financial covenants relating to the bonds it issued. The board then proposed to accept an injection of funds from a new investor that involved the issue of a large number of new shares and a nonrenounceable rights issue, which would substantially dilute existing shareholders. This led a substantial shareholder to propose the removal of directors on the basis that the directors had not acted in the best interests of the company. A boardroom tussle then ensued. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the evaluation of financing options, duties of directors in an insolvency situation, board composition, the removal of directors by shareholders and the resignation of directors. Background AWT is a water treatment specialist, providing comprehensive and integrated engineering solutions for water purification and wastewater treatment systems. Its business was conducted primarily in the People’s Republic of China through its subsidiary, Wuhan Kaidi Water Services This is an abridged version of a case initially prepared by Lim Wan Jou and Tan Pei Shi under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Lee Yinsean Vanessa under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 17In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Co Ltd. The company’s main revenues came from three core business segments: water purification, wastewater treatment and other auxiliary projects. Before June 2004, AWT specialised in engineering, procurement and commissioning (EPC) contracts for water purification treatment systems. However, business opportunities presented AWT a chance to expand its business model. In 2004, AWT shifted from pure contracting to a mixture of ownership of projects and providing EPC services. Bond Subscription Agreement (BSA) As AWT’s projects were generally capitalintensive and required considerable upfront capital commitments, the company took on substantial financing. Although the shift of business model was initially successful, AWT’s business went downhill when it gradually expended its available capital. To reduce the risk of relying too much on shortterm borrowing to finance longterm projects, and to access additional longer term capital to fund its expansion, AWT entered into a Bond Subscription Agreement (BSA) on 8 August 2007 with shareholders’ approval. Structured and convertible bonds worth US60 million were to be issued in two tranches, with the proceeds to be utilised for various water treatment projects. The issuance of Series 1 bonds gave AWT a capital inflow of US25.4 million, allowing the company to secure 54 new projects. Deteriorating Business Challenging economic conditions surfaced soon after and AWT was faced with rapidly deteriorating operating cash flow problems. In December 2007, AWT exceeded a gearing ratio, breaching a financial covenant relating to the Series 1 bonds issued. Although AWT obtained a waiver on the covenant breach, it breached another covenant due to the failure to complete a restructuring plan. As a result, the second US30 million tranche of bonds was cancelled. However, at the request of AWT, bondholders agreed to observe a standstill period, where they would not terminate the BSA or demand for the outstanding amounts. In exchange, the company was restricted from further investments in any projects and prohibited from executing any related EPC contracts. 18In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology An official waiver was subsequently obtained on 31 December 2008 but AWT was subjected to a revised set of financial covenants, requiring it to repay specific principal amounts with accrued interest on stipulated dates. For such repayments, a redemption amount of US2 million was scheduled for payment on 31 March 2009. However, unable to pick up its business within such a short time, AWT failed to meet the repayment again. It obtained an extension until 5 June 2009, pending the conclusion of an agreement for new injection of funds into the company by potential investors. When AWT did not meet the second payment deadline, bondholders granted a further extension on condition that AWT entered into a legally binding written contract with potential investors. After conducting numerous meetings and negotiations, AWT received two written offers, including an offer from SI Infrastructure. Offer from SI Infrastructure The board considered SI Infrastructure’s offer to be superior, given the 2 latter’s financial stability and the potential for synergy. Under a deal signed on 16 June 2009, SI Infrastructure would subscribe for up to 1.67 billion new shares and a nonrenounceable rights issue of 98.45 million new shares at an exercise price of 2 cents per share, on the basis of one rights share for every two existing shares held. Net proceeds from this issue were estimated to be between US21.2 million and US23.9 million. With the successful completion of the deal, SI Infrastructure would hold not less than 83.3 per cent and up to 85 per cent of AWT’s enlarged share capital. The injection of capital by SI Infrastructure would improve the financial condition of AWT and allow its principal business to remain as wastewater treatment and water purification in China. AWT would be able to leverage on SI Infrastructure’s network and business expertise to expand into the waste water treatment and water purification industry. 19In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Boardroom Tussle The boardroom tussle began when a substantial shareholder of AWT 3 objected to the financial rescue plan . Through EGN Nominees Pte Ltd (EGN), Kareti Venkataramana started buying AWT shares from early June 4,5,6 2009. At the highest point of ownership, EGN held 24.38 per cent of AWT. On 2 July 2009, EGN issued a notice for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). It proposed the removal of four directors (Addyson Xue, Ng Fook Ai Victor, Simon Littlewood and Sha Guangwen) and the appointment of two new directors (Venkataramana and Peter Lai), as well 7 as the rejection of SI Infrastructure’s offer . SI Infrastructure’s offer was questioned as the proposal involved a 77.8 per cent share price discount and virtually all of the share value of AWT’s current shareholders would 8 be eroded. The last transacted share price was 9 cents on 12 June 2009 . Venkataramana felt that AWT’s directors had acted without considering the best interests of the company, and believed that the board should be held accountable for failing to justify the issue of shares at the grossly discounted price to SI Infrastructure. “Why should you think that heads should not roll for such 9 financial mismanagement” — Shareholder, Mr Ong C.H., 30 July 2009 (Today, Singapore) In addition, Venkataramana felt that the significant deterioration of AWT’s financial health over the past three years indicated poor leadership. He cast doubt on the board’s ability to lead the company, citing repeatedly bad corporate decisions that he argued had been made. In Venkataramana’s view, the board has also not undertaken adequate project financing planning, given the bad cash flow management in the company. “Nobody has said that this is a bad company or that it lacks strong fundamentals. But the company is in trouble because of poor cash flow management.” — AWT Investor, 31 July 2009 (The Business Times, Singapore) 20In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Venkataramana further argued that the board’s dealings with bondholders were questionable, as the monies received from the issuance of Series 1 bonds should have been used to repay shortterm lending instead of securing new projects. As a result, in the same month when the issue of the Series 1 bonds was completed, the company had already breached a financial covenant relating to the bond. He argued that the severe lack of judgment on the part of the board also led to AWT’s failure to complete the restructuring exercise, resulting in the cancellation of the Series 2 bonds. Another issue raised was SI Infrastructure’s motive behind the investment. SI Infrastructure’s subsidiary, General Water of China (GWC), had separately signed a letter of undertaking with AWT’s bondholders to purchase US29 million worth of AWT’s assets if the proposed 10 refinancing deal was vetoed by shareholders . As such, Venkataramana questioned if the deal would protect AWT’s interests, as it appeared that SI Infrastructure was only interested in AWT’s assets. Following the notice issued by EGN, the directors of AWT made an announcement in response to Venkataramana’s claims. They sought to explain their actions to improve AWT’s liquidity, citing the challenging macro environment conditions that the company faced. At the EGM held on 29 July 2009, investors holding over 50 per cent of the issued 11 share capital shot down the proposal to remove the directors . However, Venkataramana wrote to AWT on 12 August, calling for the resignation 12 of the four directors, failing which a second EGM would be called. On the same day, AWT announced that three of its directors – Ng Fook Lai Victor, Simon Littlewood and Addyson Xue – had resigned on 11 August. In another letter dated 13 August, EGN called for the appointment of Venkataramana and Peter Lai as the nonexecutive and independent directors respectively. The letter also carried the same threat if AWT did not comply, EGN would call for another EGM to effect the appointment and remove the remaining two directors, CEO Huang Hanguang and Sha Guangwen. On 17 August, EGN called for an EGM to be held on 23 September. Eventually, Huang Hanguang was removed from the board 13 and as CEO , and four new directors were appointed. The proposed investment by SI Infrastructure was also aborted. 21In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Changes in the Board The old board comprised six directors, with one executive director, two nonexecutive directors and three independent directors. Most of the directors had related energy industry knowledge. There was diversity of competencies, with qualifications in the areas of engineering, science, economics, banking and business. The board members held many other directorships and some also had prior working experience together. During the boardroom tussle, Tan Tew Han and Huang Hanguang said 14 that they would voluntarily resign if the other four directors were to be removed. Eventually, Huang Hanguang was removed by shareholders in a resolution, while Simon Littlewood, Victor Ng, Sha Guangwen and Addyson Xue resigned. All four directors gave similar reasons for resigning – “the need for an extensive time commitment to the distressed company was something that they were unable to handle”. Also, Victor Ng and Tan Tew Han cited health reasons. Time commitment was also cited in the resignation of the newlyappointed independent director, Peter Lai. At the end of the struggle for control, a new board was formed with a non executive chairman, three other independent directors and an interim executive director, Venkataramana. In November and December 2009, two more nonexecutive directors were appointed. AWT’s Share Price Beginning in late 2007, AWT’s share price started declining. The fall persisted through 2008 and stabilised somewhat in 2009. AWT’s financial health deteriorated with a negative growth of 20 per cent from 2008 to 2009, and losses increased 9 fold in the oneyear period, attributable to the rise in doubtful debt expenses and finance expenses, and the 15 50 per cent drop in gross profit for its main power plant business . For the second half of 2008, high construction costs in the power plant water purification projects in China and the delay in earnings from two other major projects affected AWT’s performance. Furthermore, a major earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 threatened the progress of their water 22In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology infrastructure projects, and higher loans and borrowings caused the Group to breach its debt covenants during the quarters ended 30 June and 30 September 2008. The company’s share price fell from over 20 16 cents to below 10 cents . In June 2009, at the beginning of the boardroom tussle, the company’s share price was at 9 cents. To raise his stake past 30 per cent, where he would be able to trigger a general takeover offer of AWT under the Code of Mergers and Takeovers, Venkataramana purchased shares in the open market. On news of a possible takeover, AWT’s share hit a five month high of 12.5 cents and a total of 1.25 million shares were traded on 17 22 July 2009 . While the peak in August and September 2009 could be due to Venkataramana’s continuous purchase of shares, it might also be attributable to investors’ rising confidence in the firm and the possibility of a takeover by EGN. In addition, the Group announced in late August a loan of RMB158 million obtained from the Industrial and Commercial 18 Bank of China and Chinese Bohai Bank . With additional working capital for its projects, it was good news for the market. However, AWT’s shares were suspended for trading on 8 September 2009, with its last traded price at 20 cents. The company went into receivership in the same month. 23In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Discussion Questions 1. When considering financing options for a company seeking to expand or trying to stay afloat, what are the key factors that the board and management should consider 2. In your view, did the old AWT board adequately discharge its duties Do you think the board acted appropriately when the business started to deteriorate 3. Do you think the board could have done more to avoid the boardroom tussle 4. Do you think the directors were resigning too easily Do you find the reasons for their resignation acceptable Under what circumstances should a director resign 5. Identify any corporate governance deficiencies in AWT’s board of directors both the old and new board. 6. A common complaint amongst shareholder activists in the U.S. is that shareholders have no rights because it is difficult for them to appoint directors of their choice or to remove directors. To what extent should shareholders be given the power to appoint or remove directors In AWT’s case, do you think the substantial shareholder’s action in removing incumbent directors and appointing new directors was beneficial to AWT 7. In situations such as the above, do you think regulators (such as the stock exchange or securities regulator) should have intervened or responded in any way If so, how 8. Who do you think is most responsible for the failure of AWT 24In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology Endnotes: 1 Khin, Nande. “Asia Water Technology aims to raise proceeds of 7m from listing”. 24 February 2005. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 2 Ramchandani, Nisha. “SI Infrastructure to invest in Asia Water”. 17 June 2009. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 3 Oh, Boon Ping. “AWT tells stakeholder to show clear plans for the business”. 24 July 2009. The Business Times Singapore, accessed via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ ap/academic. 4 SGX. “ASIA WATER TECHNOLOGY LTD.: NOTICE OF A CHANGE IN THE PERCENTAGE LEVEL OF A SUBSTANTIAL SHAREHOLDER’S INTEREST” 4 September 2009. http://www.finanznachrichten.de/ nachrichten200909/14869282asiawatertechnologyltdnoticeofachange inthepercentagelevelofasubstantialshareholdersinterest027.htm 5 AWT’s shares for the period from 1 January 2009 to 30 September 2009 were unchanged at 196,918,959 shares. From: Asia Water Technology Ltd. “Third Quarter And Nine Months Financial Statement And Dividend Announcement”. 13 November 2009. http://www.asiawatertech.com/asiawater.listedcompany.com/newsroom /200911131805315GBC18E1584DCC409284825766D002C93C2.1.pdf. 6 At the time of EGN’s call for an EGM in midAugust, the company held 48,000,000 shares in AWT. From: Asia Water Technology Ltd. “Letters From EGN Nominees Pte Ltd Dated 12 August And 13 August 2009”. 17 August 2009. http://www.asiawatertech.com/asiawater.listedcompany.com/news. html/id/174571.html 7 Chow, Kelvin. “Showdown at Asia Water Tech”. 21 July 2009. Today Singapore via National Library Board. March 2010. http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article/today200907211.2.50.13.aspx. 8 Ramchandani, Nisha. “Shareholder opposes Asia Water’s proposal”. 18 June 2009. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/ academic. 25In Deep Water: Boardroom Tussle at Asia Water Technology 9 Cheow, Xin Yi. “Removal of 4 directors blocked”. 30 July 2009. Today Singapore via National Library Board. March 2010. http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article/today200907301.2.66.9.aspx. 10 Yang, Hui Wen. “Backup deal for Asia Water bondholders”. 30 June 2009. The Straits Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 11 Yang, Hui Wen. “Shareholder fails to oust Asia Water board”. 30 July 2009. The Straits Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 12 Ramchandani, Nisha. “Asia Water substantial owner seeks another EGM”. 18 August 2009. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 13 Oh, Boon Ping. “AWT sinks into deeper water”. 3 October 2009. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 14 Cheow, Xin Yi. “Asia Water Tech tussle: Entire board threatens to resign”. 24 July 2009. Today Singapore via National Library Board. March 2010. http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article/today200907241.2.74.6.aspx. 15 Yang, Hui Wen. “Financing deal vital, warns Asia Water”. 27 June 2009. The Straits Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 16 Oh, Boon Ping. “AWT gets second chance to regain minorities’ support”. 31 July 2009. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. March 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/ academic. 17 Chow, Kelvin. “Stocks jump on takeover talk”. 23 July 2009. Today Singapore via National Library Board. March 2010. http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article/today200907232.2.69.12.aspx. 18 Asia Water Technology Ltd. “Syndicated Loan” 21 August 2009. http://www.asiawatertech.com/asiawater.listedcompany.com/newsroom/ 200908211742285GBF3FB2B87D50BFA214825761900305491.1.pdf 26Japan Land: The Setting Sun Japan Land: The Setting Sun Case Overview Corporate governance issues surrounding the independence and conflict of interest within the board in Japan Land surfaced in 2009, following the successive resignations of its Deputy Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer, external auditor and an independent director. Following the revelations of these corporate governance issues, the company’s share price fell from 0.37 in July to close at an all time low of 0.27 at the end of November. On 30 March 2010, Japan Land suspended the trading 1 of shares in the face of financial woes affecting one of its subsidiaries, Jurong Data Centre Development (JDD). By the end of June 2011, Japan Land was delisted from the Singapore Exchange. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as board composition and director independence, resignations of independent directors, auditors and key officers and whether they are “red flags”, internal control and risk management, conflicts of interest and ethics. Company Overview Japan Land Limited was incorporated on 28 October 1997 as a business tobusiness (B2B) company and was listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) Mainboard in 2000. In 2004, Japan Land added the real estate and related sector to the Group’s core business, with an emphasis on the Japanese property market. Through its subsidiaries and associated Jiang Xinyan, Beatrice Kwek Pei Shan and Teo Yonghui prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Joanna Ng Yi Mei under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2011 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 27Japan Land: The Setting Sun companies, Japan Land’s businesses spanned property development, project management and customised housing in Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. The company’s three main areas of investment are development projects for both commercial and industrial purposes, corporate capital investments (which also includes investing in the provision of human resources and technical/management knowhow), and provision of management services, including cash flow management, procurement, development and operations. Group Structure The many key subsidiaries that Japan Land has for development and investment purposes are held through Japan Asia Land Limited (JALL), a whollyowned subsidiary of Japan Land which was incorporated in Japan. JALL is an investment holding company that owns 50 per cent of Lux Partners Co. Ltd. (Lux Partners), 75.5 per cent of Japan Asia (Vietnam) Company Ltd (JAVCO), 83.33 per cent of Jurong Data Centre Development Pte Ltd (JDD) and 20 per cent of Katsumi Housing Corporation Limited (KHC). It oversees the operations of these companies and plays a central role in promoting development projects in Japan, in addition to providing advisory services on corporate revitalisation programmes and underscoring Japan Land’s focus on becoming a leading real estate player. Initially focused on customised housing and real estate development through its associate KHC Limited, Japan Land ventured into developing and managing data centres in Asia. Following the success of one of its largest data centre projects in Tokyo, the Group went on to develop a data centre, JDD, in Singapore to strengthen its position in the data centre segment. It planned to participate in more of such projects in the region. Board of Directors Japan Land’s board was made up of seven members, five of whom are nonexecutive directors. Of the five nonexecutive directors, the 28Japan Land: The Setting Sun company considered three as independent directors, whose status was reviewed annually by the nominating committee. The board consisted of directors with diverse experience and background, with a majority holding business and management or accountancy degrees from reputable universities. The board was chaired by Tetsuo Yamashita, who was also the founder and Chairman of Japan Asia Holdings Limited. Yamashita had over 25 years of broad and indepth experience in the financial industry and had held roles with Japan’s Ministry of Finance and Nomura 2 Securities Co. Ltd. The board of JALL was chaired by the Managing Director of Japan Land, Mitsutoshi Ono, since 2005. Junya Kitada was the Executive DirectorcumChief Financial Officer of JALL, as well as the principal of ‘Accounting Factory’, the accounting firm which has been providing accounting services to JALL for an undisclosed number of years. Remuneration Policy The board of directors in Japan Land was compensated in the form of basic director’s fees, committee, attendance fees and share options. The director’s fee policy was based on a scale of fees divided into basic retainer fees as director and additional fees for attendance and 3 serving on specialised committees. Executive directors did not receive director fees and instead receive a mix of salary, allowances, bonuses and share options. The proposed director’s fee for 2009 was S279,686, 4 which covered a period of 14 months . In 2010, the proposed fee was 5 S304,074 . The company had a 2000 Japan Land Limited Share Option Scheme (“2000 scheme”) which was approved and implemented in 2000. This scheme granted stock options to employees of the Group and both executive and nonexecutive directors of the company. In the case where the directors receiving options are controlling shareholders or associates of the company, it required the approval of shareholders in the general meeting. 29Japan Land: The Setting Sun Audit and Nominating Committees As at the end of its 2009 financial year, Japan Land’s audit committee (AC) comprised two nonexecutive independent directors, including the chairman of the AC. Members of the AC had a background in accounting and finance, and AC meetings were typically held several times during the financial year. According to the company’s corporate governance report, the AC reviewed a wide range of reports and relevant papers from the management and external auditors. Management staff and the company’s auditors, who could provide additional insight into the matters to be discussed, were also invited from time to time to attend such meetings. Japan Land’s nominating committee (NC) comprised two nonexecutive independent directors, including the chairman of the NC and one executive director. NC meetings were held at least once a year. The NC made recommendations to the board for the reelection of directors and the appointment of potential candidates as directors and members of the committees, and evaluated the performance of the board. Issues Within the Group Review and oversight of the accounting practices One of the issues faced by both the JALL’s and Japan Land’s boards was the review and oversight of the accounting practices of the company. Junya Kitada and the JALL board would draw up the accounts, which would then be approved by the staff of Accounting Factory. Mitsutoshi Ono also set up an audit committee authorising Kitada as an internal auditor to perform audits on JALL and its subsidiaries, without notifying 6 the AC of Japan Land. Lack of proper monitoring and reporting of subsidiaries In September 2009, Ernst Young, Japan Land’s auditor since 2000, raised the issue of lack of timely communication and sharing of information between the finance department of the head office and the 7 AC with regard to its subsidiaries, particularly JALL . The issue of the 30Japan Land: The Setting Sun lack of accounting knowledge and compliance from overseas reporting entities was raised. Investment proposals by JALL in Fuchu in Japan and JDD in Singapore and Vietnam were not presented to the Japan Land board for evaluation and approval. In addition, the budget report of the Vietnam project did not include proper detailed budgeting and projections and there was no timely cashflows and project reporting by JALL to its parent. Further, an intercompany loan of S10 million taken to finance the Fuchu Data 8 Centre, which matured in May 2009 , was signed and extended to 2011 by Mitsutoshi Ono on behalf of Japan Land and JALL’s Executive Director, Yoko Yamashita, without notifying the Japan Land board. Proceeds received from the Data Centre were also not utilised for the repayment of the S10 million loan. In June 2009, JALL issued JPY700 million worth of bonds to Aizawa (a related party to Japan Land) using Japan Land’s investments as its security, which was also not presented to the board of Japan Land. Resignation of Management Committee and External Auditor Successive resignations of members of Japan Land Management Committee unfolded in July 2009, with the resignation of its Deputy 9 Managing Director, Junichiro Meno . Subsequently in August, the Chief Financial Officer of Japan Land, Tan Boon Hua, submitted his resignation 10 to the board , which took effect on 1 September 2009. Both parties cited personal reasons for their departure from the company. On 2 October 2009, Ernst Young gave notice to the company of its 11 intention to resign as the company’s auditor , just three days after its reappointment in the company’s Annual General Meeting. However, in a news announcement dated 14 October, Japan Land said the reason for the change in auditor was to improve the corporate governance of the 12,13 company . KPMG LLP was then appointed to be the external auditor of Japan Land Limited. 31Japan Land: The Setting Sun In November 2009, Sin Boon Ann resigned as Japan Land’s independent director, barely completing a one year term on the board. In a regulatory announcement, Sin Boon Ann said he was dissatisfied with the company’s 14 management control over its operating subsidiary, JALL . Edward Tiong Yung Suh, who had over 11 years of experience in civil and commercial litigation, banking litigation, insolvency and restructuring as well as 15 property disputes , was eventually nominated to the board as the new independent and nonexecutive director on 11 January 2010. He was also appointed as a member of the AC. 16 In late November, Junya Kitada resigned from JALL . Mitsutoshi Ono also resigned as Japan Land’s Director and Managing Director but 17 remained as President of JALL . In December 2009, Leow Tet Sin was appointed as the new Managing Director of Japan Land. Japan Land then acknowledged the existence of several conflicts of interests, including the conflict posed by the duality of roles held by Mitsushito Ono and the inadequacy of control over JALL. It also admitted 18 to the lack of prompt disclosure of project cashflows from JALL . In June 2010, Ono also stepped down as President of JALL. Delisting of Japan Land Shares Problems continued to surface in Japan Land, despite its bid to manage and improve the corporate governance of the company. During the period from July to November 2009, the share price of Japan Land fluctuated unsteadily. By the end of November, it had fallen by about 25 per cent from S0.36 to S0.27. It share price remained unstable and on 30 March 2010, trading in its shares was suspended on SGX at the request of the company, after closing at an alltime low of S0.26. Japan Land was on track to sell an 85 per cent stake in JDD to ConnectedPlanet Holding Limited (ConnectedPlanet). However, the latter repeatedly failed to complete its investment agreement. This led to Japan Land being unable to use the proceeds to pay its debt of about 19 S44.4 million owed to main contractor, M+W Singapore Pte Ltd. 32Japan Land: The Setting Sun On 31 March 2010, Japan Land issued a profit warning, saying it expected to post fullyear losses for its financial year ending 31 May 2010 due 20 mainly to losses in its underlying businesses . It reported a fullyear net 21 loss of S65.7 million for year ended 2010, due to the writingoff of loan and interest receivables from the liquidation of JDD and higher finance expenses related to financial restructuring. To resume the trading of the company’s shares, Japan Land was to submit a proposal by 29 March 2011, failing which SGX would have the option 22 to delist the company . On 25 May 2011, Japan Land’s application for time extension in the Preliminary Resumption Proposal submission was rejected by SGX. Among the reasons cited, SGX said it was uncertain of Japan Land’s ability to meet the continuing listing requirements, due to the negative working capital and poor operating cashflow position for the 23 financial years ended 31 January 2010 and 31 January 2011. As of April 2010, the outstanding sum that Japan Land owed to the main 24 contractor, M+W Singapore amounted to S200 million . The company kept its negotiations with M+W Singapore Pte Ltd going until a decision was reached to wind up JDD. Due to the troubled financial standing of Japan Land, JDD was eventually sold to M+W Singapore on 15 25 November 2010 for S145 million. Japan Land was notified by SGX that its shares will be delisted with effect from 30 June 2011. Japan Land then became an unlisted public limited company with its existing shareholders still holding shares in the 26 company. 33Japan Land: The Setting Sun Discussion Questions 1. What are the key corporate governance issues raised in the Japan Land case What are the major underlying causes of these issues 2. Explain the key potential conflicts of interest highlighted in the case and explain why they undermine corporate governance in the company. 3. There were a succession of resignations from the company. To what extent did these resignations indicate systemic corporate governance issues within the company 4. Do you think the independent director should have resigned Under what circumstances should a director resign and how should he communicate this decision 5. Do you think the company and the external auditors acted appropriately when the external auditors resigned just three days after accepting reappointment 6. In your opinion, were the financial woes faced by the company caused by its corporate governance problems 7. Recently, there was a major scandal involving Olympus, a large Japanese listed company. Do you believe that there are certain cultural or business norms involving Japanese companies which may pose systemic corporate governance issues in Japanese companies 34Japan Land: The Setting Sun Endnotes: 1 Enriquez, Millet, ‘Japan Land issues profit warning’, Channel NewsAsia, 31 March 2010. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singapore businessnews/view/1047124/1/.html 2 Japan Land Limited. Annual Report 2009, p.12. 3 Japan Land Limited. Annual Report 2009, p. 26. 4 Ibid, 28. 5 Japan Land Limited. Annual Report 2010, p. 11. 6 Sim, Arthur. “Japan Land independent director speaks up”, 10 December 2009, The Business Times. 7 Ibid. 8 Japan Land Limited, ‘Reporting of JALLic And Management Weaknesses’. 9 December 2009. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdfarticle. phpid=277art=ann, accessed on 14 December 2011. 9 Japan Land Limited. “Announcement of Cessation as Deputy Managing Director” 6 July 2009. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2009/cessation 06jul09.pdf, accessed on 28 January 2012. 10 Japan Land Limited. “Announcement of Cessation as Chief Financial Officer”. 11 August 2009. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2009/ announcement202001.pdf, accessed on 28 January 2012. 11 Japan Land Limited. “Announcement – Proposed Change of Auditors” 14 October 2009. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2009/JLLchangeof auditorsfinal.pdf, accessed on 28 January 2012. 12 Ibid. 13 Mak, Yuen Teen, ‘Disturbing Questions about Japan Land Announcements’, 9 December 2009. The Business Times. 28 January 2012. http://bschool.nus.edu.sg/LinkClick.aspxfileticket=6oKOGLyNtUQ3Dta bid=1445mid=5733 14 Chay, Felda, and Sim, Arthur. ‘Japan Land Managing Director Resigns’, 8 December 2011. The Business Times. 17 December 2011. http://bschool. nus.edu.sg/Portals/0/images/CGFRC/docs/BT8Dec09.pdf 35Japan Land: The Setting Sun 15 Japan Land Limited. “Appointment of independent NonExecutive Director.” 11 January 2010. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2010/JLLAnncApptDir EdwardTiongsgx.pdf , accessed on 17 December 2011. 16 Japan Land Limited. “Resignation Of Managing Director And Resignation Of Executive Director Of Subsidiary, Japan Asia Land Limited”. 7 December 2009. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2009/JLLannc7Dec2009.pdf, accessed on 28 January 2012. 17 Ibid. 18 Hock, Lock Siew. ‘Japan Land Twisting in Ever Tighter Knots’, 9 December 2009. The Business Times. 19 Enriquez, Millet, ‘Japan Land issues profit warning’, Channel NewsAsia, 31 March 2010. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/ singaporebusinessnews/view/1047124/1/.html 20 Ibid. 21 Japan Land Limited. Annual Report 2010, p. 1. 22 Japan Land Limited. ”Clarification Announcement on the Resumption Proposal”, 15 June 2011. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2011/Annt20110 615ClarificationofResumptionProposal.pdf, accessed on 20 December 2011. 23 Ibid. 24 Khoo, Lynette. “Jurong Data slapped with statutory demand”. 7 April 2010. The Business Times. 25 Japan Land Limited. Sales of Data Centre” 29 November 2010. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2010/Saleofdatacentre.pdf, accessed on 20 December 2011. 26 Japan Land Limited ‘Delisting Announcement’, 29 June 2011. http://www.japanlandltd.com/pdf/2011/20110629Delisting.pdf, accessed on 20 December 2011. 36JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple Case Overview On 6 July 2009, JLJ Holdings launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 19 million shares at S0.27 each. The shares were highly popular and sold out fully. However, just a year later, the company’s popularity turned into infamy when a global supply manager of Apple was arrested and charged with bribery. One of JLJ’s employees was also indicted for his active involvement in the bribery scheme. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the impact of corruptionrelated risks on companies, measures that company can take to mitigate such risks, the role of the board in setting the right tone, and how the board should deal with the investigation and communication of a corruption scandal. The History of JLJ Holdings Ltd JLJ Holdings was first incorporated as a private limited company under the Singapore Companies Act on 18 March 2009. On 19 May 2009, it was converted into a public limited company. This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Athena Chan, Elaine Ang, Elicia Ng, Emily Sim, and Regina Lin under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Amanda Aw Yong under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 37JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple The history of JLJ can be traced back to July 1993, when Jin Li Mould was founded by JLJ’s Executive Chairman Chua Kim Guan and his group of friends. It targeted the niche market for Mould Design and Fabrication (MDF), where Chua saw immense growth potential. Despite its size and limited resources, Jin Li Mould quickly built a reputation for high quality standards in its services and capabilities. In 1997, it secured a contract with Hewlett Packard. This was soon followed by a supply contract with Apple in 2001, paving the way for a profitable longterm business relationship. In 2003, Chua identified business opportunities in China and commenced operations in Jiangsu province with the establishment of EMold Kunshan, where Chua was the sole shareholder. “Growth in Tandem with Apple” By 2008, Jin Li Mould was heavily involved in the production of components for a majority of Apple’s products, including the iPod and iPhone range of devices, and the Macintosh range of personal computers. To meet the increasing demand from Apple, EMold Kunshan eventually focused on producing Applerelated components. Its close proximity to Apple’s outsourced manufacturing facilities in China enabled it to provide more 1 efficient support for Apple’s operations . This business relationship with Apple proved to be crucial for the group of companies. Between 2006 and 2008, revenues derived from contracts with Apple grew from 70.8 2 per cent of total revenue to 82.5 per cent of total revenue . As Apple posted a record US1.21 billion net profit for Q2/FY2009, coupled with forecasts that the global consumer electronics market 3 will be worth US260.7 billion by 2012 , expectations were high for the continued growth and performance of Chua’s companies. In Chua’s own words, “Given our well established relationship with Apple, we are well positioned to ride on the continued growth in tandem with the 4 global demand for Apple products”. 38JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple JLJ’s Initial Public Offering In November 2008, EMold Holdings was incorporated and acquired the entire issued share capital of EMold Kunshan from Chua. A series of share swap agreements then saw JLJ acquiring the entire equity interest of Jin Li Mould, EMold Holdings, and EMold Plastics from Chua. The restructuring exercise thus resulted in JLJ becoming the holding company of the Group. On 6 July 2009, JLJ launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 19 million placement shares at S0.27 each to much excitement. These placement shares were fully subscribed by institutional and private investors, raising 5 S5.1 million for the company . On 10 July 2009, JLJ’s shares made their debut on the Singapore Exchange Catalist board at S0.26 each, with public investors holding 15.4 per cent of JLJ’s issued share capital. With proceeds raised from the listing, JLJ was now ready to execute the plans outlined by its board of directors for expansions at EMold Kunshan, Jubilee and Jin Li Mould over 2010 and 2011, and to explore 6 new opportunities in the automotive and medical devices industry . The Birth of a Fraudulent Scheme After listing, revenues from contracts with Apple continued to be the key driver of growth in the Group, particularly through business dealings involving Jin Li Mould. A key party that facilitated Jin Li Mould’s partnership with Apple was Paul S. Devine, a Global Supply Manager (GSM) at Apple, and an employee of Apple since 2005. Devine was involved in selecting suppliers of materials for Apple’s iPhone and iPod earphones, and in his capacity as GSM, had access to confidential company information and also Apple’s private thirdparty information. In October 2006, Devine collaborated with Andrew Ang, an assistant manager of Jin Li Mould, to devise a scheme where Devine would supply confidential Apple information to Jin Li Mould and five other Apple suppliers in Asia. The confidential information exchanged included product forecasts, pricing targets, product specifications, and data obtained from 39JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple 7 Apple’s business partners . The information enabled these five suppliers to gain an upper hand against competing suppliers in bids for contracts with Apple. In return, Devine was to receive kickback payments from the suppliers, determined as a percentage of the businesses they did with 8 Apple . Ang agreed to serve as the middleman between Devine and the suppliers. For his role, it was agreed that Ang would share the total sum that Devine received in kickback payments. From October 2006 to August 2010, Devine communicated with Ang through his personal Hotmail and Gmail accounts on his Applesupplied laptop. Certain code words were used to avoid any suspicion in case others chanced upon their correspondence – the code word “sample” was used to refer to a kickback payment. “Consulting services” contracts were also structured with one of the suppliers involved, so as to mask the nature of the kickback payments. How Devine Concealed the Kickback Payments To receive the kickback payments, Devine instructed the suppliers to make payments via wire transfer to a bank account that was opened under his wife’s name. Increasingly worried that accumulation of a large sum of money in one account would attract the attention of banks or regulatory authorities, Devine then set up multiple bank accounts in countries around Asia under his wife’s name, and directed some payments to those accounts. He also made it clear to the suppliers involved that each wire transfer payment must not exceed US10,000. In an email sent to a supplier in October 2007, Devine wrote, “I still haven’t received Sept payment. Can you check with your Accounting Dept Please do not send the Sept and Oct payment together in one wire transfer. Anything over 10,000 9 wired could draw too much attention.” At the same time, Devine also received payments directly from some suppliers and their agents. Between them, Devine and Ang coordinated meetings in Asia to exchange payments. In an email from Devine to Ang on 22 January 2008, it was ‘business as usual’ for the two, 40JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple “We probably have to meet in Macau for the samples (i.e. 10 payments).” Devine undertook significant measures to conceal the scheme he had devised with Ang. He eventually set up a company, CPK Engineering Corporation, and opened bank accounts using the business name. The accounts were used to collect the kickback payments, which were then redirected to his personal account. This covered his tracks by disguising the source, ownership and nature of the payments received. Throughout the scheme, the kickbacks were distributed among at least 14 bank accounts held in his wife’s and CPK’s names in the US, South Korea and 11 Singapore . When the Cat Got Out of the Bag Until this point, Devine had his kickback payments while Ang shared in those kickbacks, everything seemed smooth sailing until April 2009, when Ang resigned from Jin Li Mould. To continue this scheme, Devine contacted Chua, and entered into an agreement with Chua to maintain the covert agreements. In an email to Chua in June 2009, Devine wrote, “I will continue to provide Jin Li Mould with information 12 opportunities to keep your business growing.” He then thanked Chua for a US90,000 payment and reminded him of the outstanding balance owed of US310,000 cash and US400,000 13 worth of Jin Li Mould shares . This was immediately followed by an email containing price information from a Jin Li Mould competitor. 14 The scheme finally broke apart in April 2010 , when Apple launched a probe into Devine’s actions. A Microsoft Entourage database of emails and a cache of Hotmail and Gmail messages on Devine’s Applesupplied laptop were uncovered. The email messages contained payment details, as well as correspondence with Ang, Chua and other suppliers that contained confidential Apple information. It was also discovered that Devine had demanded and received over a million dollars of illicit payments, throughout his five years in Apple. 41JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple In August 2010, Apple filed a civil suit against Devine. Among the allegations made against Devine was a breach of his duty to Apple regarding the obligation to report “real or apparent conflicts of interest, actions that may compromise relationships or confidential and proprietary information, lack of impartiality between suppliers, reciprocity and self dealing”. These terms were contained in the Business Conduct Policy that Devine had signed when he joined Apple in 2005. His scheme with Ang was a clear violation of these duties. Steve Dowling, Apple’s spokesman, expressed the company’s displeasure, “Apple is committed to the highest ethical standards in the way we do business and we have zero tolerance for dishonest 15 behaviour inside or outside the company.” The civil suit by Apple was soon followed by an investigation involving the FBI and IRS. Ang’s involvement and the identification of him as an employee of Jin Li Mould raised questions about the role that JLJ had 16 in the scheme, and cast an “unwanted spotlight” on JLJ and the other Singapore companies named in the suit. JLJ’s Shares Plunge On the day of Devine’s arrest, 25.6 million shares of JLJ were traded compared to an average daily volume of about 496,000 shares over the previous month. In a filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on 16 August 2010, JLJ acknowledged the civil and criminal suits in the US that “apparently named” Ang, and sought to reassure investors that there was 17 no clear adverse impact on JLJ’s business with Apple . On 18 August 2010, it filed another statement with the SGX to reiterate that, “Neither (JLJ) nor Jin Li Mould nor any other member of the Group is a party to any suit by Apple or the subject of any 18 indictment whatsoever”. Despite repeated assurances and claims of no involvement, these did not stop the downward spiral in JLJ’s share price. In the days after Devine’s arrest and the indictment, JLJ had to request for a trading halt twice – first 42JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple on 19 August and then again on 24 August. By 19 August 2010, JLJ’s share price had fallen to S0.12, and hit a low of S0.10 at the market close on 30 August 2010. Management Reshuffle On 19 August 2010, Chua voluntarily relinquished his duties as Executive Chairman when the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) started investigations into the case. A statement by JLJ filed with the SGX stated that, “Andrew Ang is the brother in law of the Company’s Executive Chairman. In order to facilitate the impartial review of all activities relating to the Apple Claim that may involve the Company and its subsidiaries, the Company’s Executive Chairman has also voluntarily relinquished all executive duties in the Company for 19 the time being.” Meanwhile, CEO Ng Boon Leng did not step down from his role. JLJ explained that, “There has been no evidence to suggest that (he) had knowledge of or was involved in the alleged payments related 20 to Apple’s civil suit.” Five days later, on 24 August 2010, Foo Say Tun, who sits on the board of a few listed companies in Singapore, was appointed as the 21 new Independent NonExecutive Chairman of JLJ . With no indication on whether Chua’s relinquishing of duties was merely a temporary arrangement, Foo was to lead JLJ through its present difficulties. JLJ Claims No Involvement in Kickback Scheme Following its independent investigations, JLJ filed an announcement with the SGX on 8 November 2010, claiming that, 43JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple “On the facts known to the Company, which have been reviewed and confirmed by the Company’s Audit Committee and Chief Financial Officer, neither Jin Li Mould Manufacturing Pte Ltd nor any of the Company’s subsidiaries had at, any point, made payments to Devine personally and/or Devine’s ‘vehicles’ referred to in Apple Inc’s civil suit.” While Ang’s whereabouts remained unknown, JLJ emphasised that Ang was a former employee of Jin Li Mould who had left since 28 May 2009. An operations manager at JLJ pointed out that “(Ang) had not been with 22 (JLJ) for over a year and (everyone was) unaware of his whereabouts .” Devine Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges On 28 February 2011, Devine finally pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. The scheme that Devine “(defrauded) Apple of its money, property and right to his honest services” reportedly 23 cost Apple over US2.4 million . Under his plea agreement, Devine agreed to surrender about US2.28 million of his proceeds from the 24 scheme, and will potentially face up to 20 years in prison . However, Ang’s whereabouts remains a mystery. JLJ’s Financial Performance after the Bribery Scandal JLJ’s net profit attributable to shareholders for the financial year ending 31 December 2010 showed an impressive 847.2 per cent yearonyear growth compared to the previous period, increasing from S0.3 million to S2.9 million. Revenue grew 6.6 per cent, from S60.1 million to S64 million. JLJ’s financial results continued to remain strong in the first half of 2011, with net profit attributable to shareholders increasing 3.2 per cent and revenues growing 14.9 per cent compared to the previous corresponding period. On 30 December 2011, the last trading day of the year, JLJ’s share price closed at S0.08. Whether the bribery scandal will have a longterm impact on JLJ remains to be seen. 44JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple Discussion Questions 1. What steps should a company like JLJ take to minimise corruption related risks 2. What is the likely business impact on JLJ 3. Evaluate the actions taken by the board in response to this event. 4. Evaluate the role of the board in defining an organisation’s ethical environment. 5. Whistleblowing arrangements are increasingly seen as an important component of an organisation’s corporate governance framework. To what extent can a whistleblowing policy help deter or uncover such instances of bribery or fraud 6. With legislation in various countries relating to bribery and fraud, and international companies enforcing their own codes of conduct for suppliers, how will this impact the way Singapore companies do business overseas Endnotes: 1 JLJ Holdings Ltd. “JLJ Holdings Limited Annual Report.” 2009. http://www.sgx.com/wps/portal/marketplace/mpen/listedcompaniesinfo/ annualreportsfinancialreports, accessed on 10 April 2011. 2 JLJ Holdings Ltd. “JLJ Holdings Limited Offer Document.” 2009. http://www.sgx.com/wps/portal/marketplace/mpen/listedcompaniesinfo/ ipos, accessed on 10 April 2011. 3 Ibid. 4 Singh, Gurdip. “Singapore Toolmaker JLJ Holdings plans IPO.” 8 July 2009. Plastic News. 11 April, 2011. http://plasticsnews.com/headlines2.htmlid=1247062737channel=190 5 Tang, See Kit. “JLJ Holdings’ IPO fully subscribed and raised S5.1m.” 9 July 2009. Channel NewsAsia. 10 April, 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/ view/441436/1/.html 45JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple 6 JLJ Holdings Ltd.”JLJ Holdings Limited Offer Document.” 2009. http://www.sgx.com/wps/portal/marketplace/mpen/listedcompaniesinfo/ ipos, accessed on 10 April 2011. 7 “Former Apple Inc. Employee Pleads Guilty in Kickback Scheme.” 28 February 2011. USA Breaking News. 10 April, 2011. http://usabreakingnews.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/formerappleinc employeepleadsguiltyinkickbackscheme/ 8 Ibid. 9 Apple, Inc. v. Devine et. al. N.D. 10 April, 2011. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/districtcourts/californiacandce/5:2010 cv03563/230723/1/ 10 Ibid. 11 Williams, Martyn. “Laptop Email Cache Tipped Apple to Kickbacks Scheme.” PC World. 17 August 2010. 13 April, 2011. http://www.pcworld.com/article/203425/laptopemailcachetippedapple tokickbacksscheme.html 12 Apple, Inc. v. Devine et. al. N.D. 10 April, 2011. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/districtcourts/californiacandce/5:2010 cv03563/230723/1/ 13 Ibid. 14 Williams, Martyn. “Laptop Email Cache Tipped Apple to Kickbacks Scheme.” PC World. 17 August 2010. 13 April, 2011. http://www.pcworld.com/article/203425/laptopemailcachetippedapple tokickbacksscheme.html 15 Dalrymple, J. “Apple manager arrested for alleged 1M in kickback. “14 August 2010. Cnet.News. 13 April 2011 http://news.cnet.com/83011357932001366537.html 16 Mak, Yuen Teen. Apple Case Throws Spotlight on Corruption. Business Times. 26 August 2010. 17 JLJ Holdings Limited. Company Announcement. 16 August 2010. http://info.sgx.com/webcoranncatth.nsf/VwAttachments/AttFE876 8A5C67043C448257781001C95E0/file/JLJAnnoucement160810. pdfopenelement, accessed on 10 April 2011. 46JLJ Holdings Limited: Poisoned by Its Rotten Apple 18 JLJ Holdings Limited. Company Announcement. 18 August 2010. http://info.sgx.com/webcoranncatth.nsf/VwAttachments/Att889BA 972DF7BDCDE48257783002FEC92/file/Annoucement18Aug10. pdfopenelement, accessed on 10 April 2011. 19 JLJ Holdings Limited. Company Announcement. 19 August 2010. http://info.sgx.com/webcoranncatth.nsf/VwAttachments/AttE5732 95129593DF6482577840035EF3B/file/Announcement19Aug10. pdfopenelement, accessed on 10 April 2011. 20 Ibid. 21 JLJ Holdings Limited. Company Announcement. 24 August 2010. http://info.sgx.com/webcoranncatth.nsf/VwAttachments/Att5AEFA 471C42F58C648257789003E615C/file/Announcement24Aug2010. pdfopenelement, accessed on 10 April 2011. 22 Liang, Annabelle. “Apple names Singapore supplier in US lawsuit.” 16 August 2010. My Paper. 14 April 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/News/ Latest2BNews/DigitalOne/Story/A1Story20100816232212.html 23 Nystedt, Dan. “ExApple Manager Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Kickback Scheme.” 1 March 2011. Computer World. 11 April 2011. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9212039/ExApplemanager pleadsguiltytofraudinkickbackschemetaxonomyId=82 24 Ernst, Anne. “Former Apple Employee Reaches Plea Agreement in Fraud Case.” 1 March 2011. Cupertino Patch. 11 April 2011. http://cupertino.patch.com/articles/paulshindevinereachesplea agreementinapplefraudcase 47Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal SinoEnvironment: An SChip Scandal Case Overview A loan default by the CEO and Chairman of SinoEnvironment, Sun Jianrong, triggered a series of events that led to the unraveling of yet another SChip scandal plaguing the Singapore stock market. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the business practices and corporate governance of Chinese companies that seek a listing in Singapore, the role of independent directors, and enforcement challenges for foreign companies listed on the Singapore Exchange About SinoEnvironment “With our new factory due to complete by end 2006, our manufacturing capacity will more than double, from the current approximately three devices per month to approximately seven devices per month. We will also diversify into the treatment and management of other types of industrial waste gases, in particular, sulphur dioxide, which is emitted from power generating facilities. With our strong RD capabilities and dedicated management team, we are well positioned to benefit and grow in tandem with the continuing industrialisation and increasing awareness of environmental protection in the PRC.” – Sun Jianrong when Sino first sought listing in Singapore. This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Chong Jie Ying, Goh Ai Ling, and Koh Kai Ling under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Elaine Kok Shin Yean under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 48Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal SinoEnvironment is an environmental solutions specialist in four main areas: (1) industrial waste gas treatment, management and recovery of volatile organic compounds, (2) industrial and municipal waste water treatment and management, (3) dust elimination, and (4) industrial waste gas treatment and management of sulphur dioxide and oxidised forms of nitrogen. The company adopts a product differentiation strategy. It uses its research and development capabilities to stay ahead of technological competition and continuously improves its technological and innovative applications. The Board of Directors The board consisted of seven directors, with three independent directors (IDs): Goh Chee Wee, Wong Chiang Yin and Pan Jinquan. Goh was appointed as the lead independent director. He sat on the boards of nine other listed companies and also held other key appointments, such as being a director of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) cooperatives. Wong sat on the boards of other listed companies and was a senior executive in a healthcare group based in Malaysia, holding positions such as executive director and CEO in hospitals and companies in the group. He was also President of the Singapore Medical Association. The third ID, Pan, had no prior experience sitting on the board of a listed company. The remaining four executive directors also held key management positions: Sun Jiangrong, Executive Chairman and CEO; You Shengquan, Chief Operating Officer (COO); Professor Li Shouxin, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Tan Tar Wuei, Chief Financial Officer (CFO). All three IDs sat on the Remuneration, Nominating and Audit Committees. The board had diverse competencies in business management, science, engineering, accountancy, medicine and economics and at least one had experience in the waste management industry. Throughout the year, four meetings were held. 49Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal The Beginning of the End The troubles at SinoEnvironment started when Sun Jiangrong, CEO and Chairman of SinoEnvironment, pledged his entire majority stake of 56.29 1 per cent (190.8 million shares) in SinoEnvironment as part of collateral for a personal loan from a hedge fund. A S120 million loan default by Thumb (China) Holding Group Ltd (TCH) triggered the unraveling of SinoEnvironment. Unknown to many, TCH was a controlling shareholder of SinoEnvironment and was, in fact, an investment firm wholly and 2 beneficially owned by Sun. When Sun defaulted on the loan in early March 2009, the hedge fund seized his shares in SinoEnvironment and sold off the entire stake in the 3 open market, causing Sun to lose control of the company . The forced sale of his shares triggered a premature redemption of convertible bonds worth S149 million, as the agreement for the bonds included a covenant 4 which requires Sun to remain in control of the company . The severity of the issue emerged when PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) issued an audit disclaimer on SinoEnvironment’s financial statements due to going concern issues. nTan Corporate Advisory Pte Ltd was then appointed as SinoEnvironment’s independent financial advisor to assess the implication of the default, as well as implement measures to 5 safeguard the assets of SinoEnvironment . Seeing Red PwC was engaged to review “significant cash transactions” between 6 January and March 2009, which coincided with Sun’s loan default , when SinoEnvironment failed to produce its first quarter results in May 2009. This raised doubts on CFO Tan Tar Wuei’s resignation at end April for ‘personal reasons’. No action was taken to appoint a new CFO by management. The other executive directors (EDs) the CEO, CTO and COO , dropped a bombshell in the market on 5 May 2009, when they tendered their 7 resignation enmasse without giving any reasons . The independent 50Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal directors (IDs) pleaded with the executives to remain on board to ensure 8 that operations ran smoothly . On 29 May 2009, all three executives were reinstated while Tan, the former CFO, was reinstated as a nonexecutive 9 director . However, it emerged that during the period after they had tendered their resignation, the key management had retained control of the PRC subsidiaries and held access to the company’s bank accounts. SinoEnvironment’s shares finally ceased trading in September 2009. Things took a turn for the worse when PwC’s special audit revealed that at least S85 million worth of cash transactions were made without 10 any approval or authorisation from the board , amongst other dubious transactions where cash was evidently siphoned off the company’s books. Roadblocks The individuals responsible for the questionable transactions made things difficult when PwC went to China to conduct audits. “Special” bank officers were prearranged to “deal” with the auditors, forced them to leave the bank premises, and were unwilling or unable to verify statements shown to them. As a result, PwC had to cease further investigations. Back in Singapore, accusations and counteraccusations were thrown in public. The IDs accused the EDs of misusing their power as directors. The EDs responded that the financial controller appointed by the board had misused the company’s funds by paying professional fees to PwC and nTan instead of repaying the outstanding convertible bonds. This 11,12 time, the IDs called for the immediate resignation of the EDs. Taking Action To protect their interests, the minority shareholders of SinoEnvironment called for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) at the end of 13 November 2009 . In his attempt to appease the shareholders, Sun told David Gerald, President and CEO of the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) (SIAS) that SinoEnvironment had a cash reserve of S40 51Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal million in its China bank account although the actual amount turned out 14,15 to be only S31 million. . Sun’s actions led to SinoEnvironment being rapped by the market regulator, Singapore Exchange, for not providing 16 full disclosure to the public but selective disclosure to Gerald . The IDs decided to seek legal recourse to remove the EDs in December 2009 but this proved unnecessary as the EDs resigned enmasse for the second time before the EGM could be held. On 10 February 2010, Sam 17 Chong Keen was appointed as the new CEO of SinoEnvironment . The End of the Road Barely six months into his twoyear term, Sam, the new CEO who was 18 hired to restructure the company, stepped down on 11 May 2010 . Fresh roadblocks arose when the new management flew to China to obtain authorisation letters for access to the company’s bank accounts and to locate missing documents, but the only letter obtained was for a new 19 bank account controlled by Sam . Furthermore, a substantial number of staff members with indepth knowledge about the company had resigned and little help was forthcoming from the PRC authorities and Sun. Despite evidence of money being moved around in two different accounts, the Fuzhou investigation bureau 20 found Sun not guilty of misappropriation . After concluding that it was unable to facilitate the cash and special audits by PwC, the board finally decided to place SinoEnvironment 21 under judicial management . 52Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal Discussion Questions 1. Comment on the composition of SinoEnvironment’s board of directors before the scandal. Are there red flags that should have raised concerns with investors 2. Based on this case, what are some of the key challenges faced by directors and auditors in Chinese companies listed in Singapore 3. To what extent should the independent directors be held accountable for the problems in SinoEnvironment 4. What are the challenges faced by Singapore regulators for Chinese companies listed in Singapore 5. Based on this case, are there any changes in corporate governance rules that should be introduced 6. Should Chinese companies listed in Singapore be subject to a different regulatory framework and different corporate governance rules Endnotes: 1 Wong, Carey. “SinoEnvironment: Major Shareholder in Default”. 6 March 2009. OCBC Investment Research. 10 December 2011. http://www.ocbcresearch.com/Article.aspxtype=researchid=20090 30611 014066443 2 Wong, Carey. “SinoEnvironment: Major Shareholder in Default”. 6 March 2009. OCBC Investment Research. 10 December 2011. http://www.ocbcresearch.com/Article.aspxtype=researchid=2009030611 014066443 3 Gerald, David. “SinoEnvironment Technology Group Limited”. 24 November 2009. SIAS. 10 December 2011. http://www.sias.org.sg/index.phpoption=comcontentview=articleid= 2023Asinoenvironmenttechnologygrouplimitedcatid=203Apress releasesItemid=43lang=en 53Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal 4 Goh, Eng Yeow. “SChip firms in big trouble”. 7 May 2009. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/ My2BMoney/Story/A1Story20090505139444.html 5 Gerald, David. “SinoEnvironment Technology Group Ltd”. 24 November 2009. SIAS. 10 December 2011. http://www.sias.org.sg/index.phpoption=comcontentview=articleid= 2023Asinoenvironmenttechnologygrouplimitedcatid=203Apress releasesItemid=43lang=en 6 “SinoEnvironment Tech requests for further deadline extension”. 30 June 2009. The Edge Singapore. 10 December 2011. http://www. theedgesingapore.com/component/content/5588.htmltask=view 7 Kwok, Jonathan. “SinoEnvironment causes stir as directors resign”. 5 January 2010. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/My+Money/Story/A1Story20100 105189804.html 8 Gerald, David. “SinoEnvironment Technology Group Ltd”. 24 November 2009. SIAS. 10 December 2011. http://www.sias.org.sg/index.phpoption=comcontentview=articleid= 2023Asinoenvironmenttechnologygrouplimitedcatid=203Apress releasesItemid=43lang=en 9 Goh, Eng Yeow. “A Cautionary tale for Schip investors”. 17 November 2009. Think Positive. 10 December 2011. http://guanyu9.blogspot.com/2009/11/ cautionarytaleforschipinvestors.html 10 Kwok, Jonathan. “SinoEnvironment causes stir as directors resign”. 5 January 2010. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/My+Money/Story/A1Story201001 05189804.html 11 Khoo, Lynette. ”SinoEnvironment Execs hit back at IDs”. 19 November 2009. Think Positive. 10 December 2011. http://guanyu9.blogspot. com/2009/11/sinoenvironmentexecdirectorshit.html 12 Chew, Xiang. “Executive Directors hit back; war of words at Sino Environment escalates”. 28 November 2009. Think Positive. 10 December 2011. http://guanyu9.blogspot.com/2009/11/executivedirectorshitback warof.html 54Sino Environment: An SChip Scandal 13 Gerald, David. “SinoEnvironment Technology Group Ltd”. 24 November 2009. SIAS. 10 December 2011. http://www.sias.org.sg/index.phpoption=comcontentview=articleid= 2023Asinoenvironmenttechnologygrouplimitedcatid=203Apress releasesItemid=43lang=en 14 Khoo, Lynette. “Mystery bankers, dodgy deals, missing millions”. 7 December 2009. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://business. asiaone.com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20091207184400.html 15 Yahya, Yasmine. “PwC’s report on SinoEnvironment highlights grave concerns”. 4 December 2009. Channel NewsAsia.10 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/ view/1022579/1/.html 16 Goh, Eng Yeow. “Protecting the integrity of SGXnet”. 9 December 2009. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/My+Money/Story/A1Story200912 10185067.html 17 “SinoEnvironment Technology appoints Sam Chong Keen as CEO”. 11 February 2010. The Edge Singapore. 10 December 2011. http://www. theedgesingapore.com/component/content/12552.htmltask=view 18 Lee, Martin. “SinoEnvironment Applies for Judicial Management”. 12 May 2010. Martin LeeSg. 10 December 2011. http://www.martinlee. sg/sinoenvironmentappliesforjudicialmanagement/ 19 Kwok, Jonathan. “SinoEnvironment Files for Judicial Management”. 14 May 2010. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://www.asiaone. com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20100512215793.html 20 Khoo, Lynette. “SinoEnvironment plot thickens, unsettling questions raised”. 6 January 2010. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http:// www.asiaone.com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20100105189797.html 21 Kwok, Jonathan. “SinoEnvironment Files for Judicial Review”. 14 May 2010. AsiaOne Business. 10 December 2011. http://www.asiaone. com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20100512215793.html 55The Battle for Parkway The Battle for Parkway Case Overview On 11 March 2010, Fortis Healthcare acquired a strategic 23.9 per cent stake in Parkway Holdings. It proceeded to install four of its directors on the Parkway Board and make a deal with three others to increase its control of the Board. Coupled with open market purchases that raised its stake in Parkway further to 25.37 per cent, Fortis’ position posed a worry for Khazanah Nasional Berhad, which by now had become the second largest shareholder in Parkway. This forced Khazanah to mount a takeover offer for Parkway. The ensuing bidding war not only caused regulatory bodies to intervene but also raised questions about corporate governance and director independence. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the rules and procedures governing takeovers, the definition of independent directors, and the duties of directors in a takeover situation. Parkway’s Beginnings Parkway Holdings was founded by the Tan Family of IGB Corporation and the Ang Family from Petaling Garden. It moved into the private hospital business with the acquisition of Singapore’s Gleneagles Hospital in 1987, followed by Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Parkway East Hospital in 1995, quickly becoming Southeast Asia’s largest private healthcare 1 provider . This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Ryan Tan, Faith Chia, Ada Tan and Yuan Yi under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen and Dr Vincent Chen YuShen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Kellynn Khor under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 56The Battle for Parkway 2 3 In 2005 , Texas Pacific Group (TPG Capital) invested just under S500 million in Parkway and installed four directors representing TPG’s interest on Parkway’s Board. The new board then decided to acquire a 30 per cent stake in Pantai Holdings. It formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the Malaysian National Treasury, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, to hold Pantai. Through this SPV, Khazanah wound up with a 23.2 per cent stake in Parkway Holdings. On March 2010, TPG’s agreement with Parkway came to an end. When 4 Khazanah declined TPG’s offer to buy the latter’s stake for RM2 billion , billionaire Malvinder Mohan Singh, Chairman of Fortis Healthcare, acted 5 swiftly and acquired TPG’s 23.9 per cent ownership for S959.4 million . Let’s Make A Deal Days after their successful acquisition, Malvinder Singh, and his brother, Shivinder, met with the management of Parkway Holdings. The brothers 6 invited three of the board directors – thenChairman Richard Seow , executive vicechairman Lim Cheok Peng, and chief executive officer 7 (designate) Tan See Leng – to enter into a coinvestment arrangement. The deal was structured to secure the retention of Seow’s, Lim’s and 8 Tan’s respective roles in the company with entitlement to certain 9 “economic benefits”. In return, the three directors would give Fortis the “right to direct” how they vote and agree “in general” to vote with Fortis, subject to discharging their fiduciary duties as directors. Fortis also took over TPG’s Board positions and installed four new Fortis Directors: Sunil Godhwani, Balinder Singh Dhillon and Shivinder Mohan Singh, with Malvinder being the fourth. Malvinder was thus appointed the Chairman 10 of the now 13strong Parkway Board (excluding alternates) . Fortis thus gained effective control of 7 votes in the 13man board. Growing Tensions Khazanah now had approximately half the representation on the board as compared to Fortis. It asked to have two more of its directors installed to the board, nominating Michael Fernandes, Director of Investments 57The Battle for Parkway 11 and Country Head of India, and Tunku Mahmood Fawzy . The Parkway Board deferred the decision over several occasions, before finally rejecting it. Things came to a head on 16 April 2010, when a Khazanah representative publicly expressed “the fund’s dissatisfaction over the 12 board structure from the governance standpoint” at Parkway’s AGM and wanted a formal examination of the Parkway Board’s corporate governance. In May, Malvinder Singh met Khazanah’s Managing Director and CEO Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Mokhtar for the first time in the latter’s office at the Petronas Twin Towers. However, the meeting proved fruitless as both men could not reach an agreement on Parkway’s future. With negotiations breaking down, Khazanah was forced to choose between lying down, exiting, or fighting for control. Bidding Wars 27 May 2010 – Khazanah Makes First Bid, Parkway Trading Suspended on SGX 13 Khazanah presented a S1.18 billion voluntary conditional cash partial 14 takeover offer for Parkway Holdings via one of its investment units, Integrated Healthcare Holdings (IHH). The offer, which had a tentative 15 closing date of 8 July 2010 , was set to acquire no less than 313 million 16 shares from Parkway shareholders at S3.78 per share – a 25.2 per 17 18 cent premium over the last traded price of S3.02 . A successful bid would give Khazanah a majority controlling interest of 51.5 per cent, 19 up from its current 23.9 per cent stake . Khazanah’s surprise move signalled the start of a bidding war. Under the Singapore Code on Takeovers and Mergers, parties that have bought shares in a company in the last 6 months are not normally 20 allowed to make a partial offer to shareholders . Thus, if Fortis wanted to make a counter offer, it would have to make an offer to buy all the shares through a general offer, which would be very costly. 58The Battle for Parkway 31 May to 10 June 2010 – Market Speculation Abound Meanwhile, market speculation of Fortis launching a counter offer helped to propel Parkway’s share price to a high of S3.79 on 31 May 2010. The speculation was fuelled by a number of moves that suggested that Fortis was building a warchest to fund a possible counteroffer. On 9 June 2010, Fortis’ board approved a fresh issue of securities of up to 21 INR27.50 billion (US585 million) , a proposal to raise its borrowing 22 limit to INR60 billon (US1.8 billion) , and a plan to raise INR3.8 billion (US114.2 million) by issuing around 22.35 million preferential shares 23 to an affiliated investment vehicle of GIC Special Investments Pte Ltd . These helped to boost Parkway’s share price to peak at S3.87 on 10 24 June 2010 . 15 June 2010 Fortis Considers Its Options Amidst the speculation, Fortis announced on 15 June 2010 that it was ‘keeping all options open in relation to the Khazanah’s Partial Offer and that it would continue to evaluate its options in the best interests of its 25 shareholders’ . There were also market rumours of Fortis teaming up 26 with India’s wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani, to buy a stake in Parkway. 16 June 2010 SIC Steps In The next day, Singapore’s Securities Industry Council (SIC) stepped in. The SIC directed Fortis to announce, by 30 July 2010, whether it would 27 make a general offer for Parkway . This was to ensure that Parkway shareholders were given “sufficient information, advice and time” to reach an informed decision on the offer without disrupting the “tactical 28 balance between IHH and Fortis” . 21 June to 5 July 2010 – A Question Of Independence 29 Parkway disseminated a circular to shareholders. This revealed Fortis’ coinvestment arrangement with the three directors on the Board. The report prompted some shareholders to question both the directors’ ability to exercise their voting rights independently as well as Parkway’s 30 corporate governance . The three directors responded on 24 June 2010, clarifying that the arrangements did not “impact their fiduciary obligations”, and that they “adhere to the governance standards required” 31 in their capacity as directors “in the best interests of the Company” . 59The Battle for Parkway The response failed to pacify minority shareholders and led corporate governance observers to raise the issue of director independence. Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen, then CoDirector of the Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting Centre at the National University 32 of Singapore, questioned the independence of the directors. . He also supported a suggestion by Jamie Allen, Secretary General of the Asian Corporate Governance Association, for the definition of independence to 33 be tightened in Singapore’s Code of Corporate Governance. The Securities Investors Association (Singapore) (SIAS) weighed in on 34 the issue on 30 June 2010 to help address minority investors’ concerns . It met with the three directors on 1 July 2010 to discuss “what is being 35 canvassed in the media arising from the partial offer by Khazanah” . In another meeting on 5 July 2010, the directors met with SIAS officials and the media “to answer all questions and issues that have been raised todate … that may have a significant impact on their ability to act independently and discharge their fiduciary duties as required by 36 law” . Although SIAS found the directors to have “acted correctly within 37 the law” , it nevertheless requested “that authorities review the laws pertaining to independent directors”. 1 July 2010 – Fortis Makes a Counter Offer Slightly over a month after Khazanah’s offer, on 1 July 2010, Fortis made a S3.2 billion voluntary conditional cash offer to acquire the other 74.73 per cent of Parkway shares that it did not already own at S3.80 per share. This represented a 6.4 per cent premium over the last traded price 38 of S3.57 per share on 30 June 2010 . Although the offer is conditional 39 on Fortis acquiring at least 50 per cent of Parkway, the healthcare 40 provider’s share price still rose 3 per cent as soon as the news broke. 41 However, trading was subsequently suspended for the day . On 2 July 42 2010, Parkway’s shares surged 7.3 per cent to close at S3.83 , higher than Fortis’ offer. 60The Battle for Parkway 8 July 2010 – Khazanah Extends its Bid By 8 July 2010, Khazanah had only received 4.5 per cent acceptance 43 44 for its partial takeover bid and extended the deadline to 26 July 2010 . Although no reason was given for this extension, the market nonetheless remained hopeful of another counter offer by Khazanah as the share 45 46 price rose by 0.3 per cent to close at S3.88 . 26 July 2010 – Khazanah Makes a Counter Offer, Trading Suspended Again At 9am (Singapore time) on 26 July 2010, acting through IHH, Khazanah requested a trading suspension of Parkway shares on SGX, pending 47 the release of a material announcement. A few hours later, Khazanah proceeded to top Fortis’ last offer in a S3.5 billion voluntary cash general 48 offer. It proposed to pay S3.95 per share for the remaining 76.1 per cent of Parkway shares that it did not already own. This would value 49 Parkway at S4.5 billion . In its offer document, Khazanah highlighted its interest and experience in the healthcare industry. It said its takeover offer for Parkway is ‘in line with its core commercial objectives to enhance its presence in the regional healthcare industry and will help it move towards building a more 50 integrated regional healthcare platform’ . Khazanah also put forward its intention to maintain Parkway’s present listing status on the Singapore 51 Exchange . The offer was slated to expire at 5.30 pm (Singapore time) on 16 August 2010. The Battle Ends On 27 July, the trading halt was lifted. News had already broken that Fortis had decided to cash out its 25.37 per cent stake in Parkway Holdings for 52 a profit of S116.7 million . After Fortis’ exit, Khazanah’s ownership of Parkway shares increased to around 95 per cent as of 16 August 2010, with the right to “compulsorily acquire the remaining shares”. As Parkway no longer met the minimum 53 public float of 10 per cent required for an SGX listing, trading of its shares was suspended “pursuant to Rules 724, 1105, and 1303(1) of the Listing 61The Battle for Parkway 54 Manual” on the same day. With the departure of all Fortis executives from the Board, a new Chairman and Directors were appointed on 25 55 August 2010 . Parkway Holdings was ultimately delisted from the SGX on 24 November 2010. Discussion Questions 1. Analyse the takeover process of Parkway Holdings and discuss if shareholders’ interest was protected. 2. Comment if it was appropriate for the Parkway Board to have three directors and one chairman from Fortis. What are the benefits and costs of such an arrangement What do you think should be the best practice 3. Discuss the importance of the independence of directors in making decisions for the company. Comment on the independence of Richard Seow and the Singh brothers on the Parkway Board in relation to the Code of Governance in Singapore and international best practice. 4. Comment on the agreement between Fortis and the three Parkway directors that gave “Fortis the ‘right to direct’ how they directors vote”, “subject to their fiduciary duty as directors to act in the best interests of the company”. What is the paradox here What are the implications for fulfilment of directors’ duties 62The Battle for Parkway Endnotes: 1 Jayaseelan, Risen. “Parkway’s long history with Malaysia”. 31 July 2010. The Star. 11 April 2011. http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story. aspfile=/2010/7/31/business/6768299sec=business 2 Parkway Holdings Limited. “Newbridge Capital Leads Acquisition of 26 of Parkway Holdings”. 26 May 2005. 4 December 2011. http://www.parkwayhealth.com/Library/1/publications/66/93030newbridge capitalpressrelease260505.pdf 3 The investment was made by Newbridge Capital, a jointventure affiliated with TPGAxon Capital in May 2005. When Texas Pacific Group officially changed its name to TPG Capital in 2007, Newbridge Capital – which was fully under TPG’s ownership and control by then – was rebranded as such too. 4 Gabriel, Anita. “Battle for Parkway”. 31 July 2010. The Star. 4 December 2011. http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.aspfile=/2010/7/31/ business/6759182sec=business 5 Parkway Holdings Limited. “Press Release: Fortis to acquire strategic stake in Parkway Holdings, Singapore”. 11 March 2010. 4 December 2011. http://www.parkwayhealth.com/Library/1/publications/16/100311fortis acquirestake.pdf 6 Brown, Kevin. “Parkway bid report troubles investors”. 24 June 2010. The Financial Times. 7 Peeris, Jonathan. “Parkway nominating committee defines Richard Seow’s independent director status.” 6 July 2010. Channel News Asia. 11 April 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusiness news/view/1067882/1/.html 8 Brown, 24 June 2010. 9 Kazmin, Amy. “Fortis in 3.1bn bid for Parkway”. 1 July 2010. The Financial Times. 11 April 2011. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c9cb12e484cc11df adfa00144feabdc0.html 10 Parkway Holdings Limited. “Parkway Holdings Board of Directors’ New Appointments and Resignations.” 2010. http://www.parkwayhealth.com/ Library/1/Pages/207/newbodcvs.pdf 63The Battle for Parkway 11 Gabriel, 31 July 2010. 12 Ibid. 13 Zeng, Dawn. “Possible bidding war over Parkway Khazanah’s surprise move could derail Indian company’s plans.” 28 May 2010. The Straits Times. 3. 14 In a partial offer, shareholders first vote on the acceptance of the offer and then stipulate the number of shares they wish to tender. This allows shareholders to monetise a portion, or potentially all, of their shares. 15 Singapore’s law on takeovers stipulates that a takeover offer must be kept open for at least 28 days after the date on which the offer document was posted. 16 Zeng, 28 May 2010. 17 Ibid. 18 Khazanah’s bid will only succeed if 50 per cent of the minority shareholders approve of the offer and there is agreement for the sale of no less than 313 million shares. 19 Zeng, 28 May 2010. 20 Monetary Authority of Singapore. “The Singapore Code On Takeovers And Mergers”. 2007. 4 December 2011. Section 16.4, pp 95. http://www. mas.gov.sg/resource/sic/TheSingaporeCodeonTakeOversand Mergers1April2007.pdf 21 Rajan, Amitha. “Fortis Gears Up for Parkway”. 10 June 2010. The Wall Street Journal. 5 December 2011. http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/ 2010/06/10/fortisgearsupforparkway/ 22 Choudhary, Sanjeev. “Fortis plans fundraising as Parkway battle looms” 9 June 2010. Reuters. 5 December 2011. http://in.reuters.com/article/2010/06/09/idINIndia49160620100609 23 Ibid. 24 Yahoo Finance 64The Battle for Parkway 25 Securities Industry Council. “Securities Industry Council (SIC): Public Statement on Parkway Holdings Limited”. 16 June 2010. Monetary Authority of Singapore. 11 April 2011 http://www.mas.gov.sg/resource/sic/pressreleases/ Public20Statement2020Parkway201620June202010.pdf. 26 Gabriel, 31 July 2010. 27 Securities Industry Council, 16 June 2010. 28 Ibid. 29 Parkway Holdings Limited. “Circular To Shareholders In Relation To The Voluntary Conditional Cash Partial Offer”. 21 June 2010. 7 December 2011. http://www.thenextview.com/sgxnews/20100623082911P27A8E67CBD 78073F814825774A002E285A.1.pdf 30 Brown, 24 June 2010. 31 Seow, Richard; Lim, Cheok Peng; Tan, See Leng. “Articles in Today’s Business Times and Straits Times”. 24 June 2010. Letter. 7 December 2011. http://info.sgx.com/webcoranncatth.nsf/VwAttachments/Att5109E22B46F CB6314825774C001996E7/file/24June2010.pdfopenelement 32 Mak, Yuen Teen. “Letter to the Editor: Hold Independent Directors Accountable”. 29 June 2010. The Business Times. 33 Brown, 24 June 2010. 34 Quek, Julie. “SIAS steps in to help address concerns of Parkway’s minority shareholders”. 30 June 2010. Channel News Asia. 7 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/specialreport/ news/1066790140/1/.html 35 Securities Investors Association of Singapore. “Meeting with Parkway Holdings Directors”. 1 July 2010. 7 December 2011. http://sias.org.sg/index.phpoption=comcontentview=articleid=2313 Ameetingwithparkwayholdingsdirectorscatid=203Apressreleases Itemid=43lang=en 36 Ibid. 65The Battle for Parkway 37 Singapore Business Review. “SIAS clears Parkway directors over independence issue”. 5 July 2010. 7 December 2011. http://sbr.com.sg/marketsinvesting/news/siasclearsparkwaydirectors overindependenceissue 38 Bennett, Simeon. “Fortis Offers to Buy Parkway Shares for S3.80 Each, Topping Khazanah Bid”. 1 July 2010. Bloomberg. 5 December 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20100701/fortisofferstobuyparkway sharesfors380eachtoppingkhazanahbid.html 39 Lim, Kevin Choudhary, Sanjeev. “Fortis battles Khazanah with 3.1 bln deal for Parkway”. 1 July 2010. Reuters. 5 December 2011 http://in.reuters.com/article/2010/07/01/idINIndia49796020100701 40 Ibid. 41 Ibid 42 Bennett, Simeon. “Parkway Shares Gain in Singapore After 2.3 Billion Fortis Buyout Offer” 2 July 2010. Bloomberg. 11 April 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20100702/parkwaygainsafterfortis2 3billionbuyoutoffertopskhazanahsbid.html 43 By 8 July 2010, Khazanah had only received acceptance from shareholders who hold 14.19 million shares altogether, out of the 313 million it requires for the offer to succeed 44 Reuters. “UPDATE 2Khazanah extends 835 mln Parkway offer to July 26”. 8 July 2010. 7 December 2010. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/ 07/08/parkwayidUSSGE66704A20100708 45 The Edge. “No Parkway Holdings counter offer yet from Khazanah”. 8 July 2010. 11 April 2011. http://www.theedgesingapore.com/thedailyedge/ business/17587noparkwayholdingscounterofferyetfromkhazanah.html 46 Yahoo Finance 47 Shareinvestor.com. “Brief: Parkway (SGX Symbol: P27) has requested for trading halt.” 26 July 2010. 7 December 2011. http://www.shareinvestor. com/news/news.htmlsource=siexpressnid=26710 48 Bloomberg. “Khazanah offers 3.5b in Parkway buyout, topping Fortis”. 26 July 2010. The Edge. 11 April 2011. http://www.theedgesingapore.com/ component/content/18242.htmltask=view 66The Battle for Parkway 49 Ibid. 50 Fei, Mok Fei. “Khazanah releases electronic copy of offer document for Parkway takeover.” 30 July 2010. Channel News Asia. 11 April 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/ 1072394/1/.html 51 Ibid. 52 Rajan, Amitha. “Fortis Healthcare Bows Out of Parkway Race” 26 July 2010. The Wall Street Journal. 11 April 2011. http://blogs.wsj.com/ indiarealtime/2010/07/26/fortishealthcarebowsoutofparkwayrace/ 53 Huang, Ryan. “Khazanah controls 95 of healthcare firm Parkway Holdings” 16 August 2010. Channel News Asia. 8 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/10755 41/1/.html 54 Integrated Healthcare Holdings. “Close Of The Voluntary General Offer” 16 August 2010. 8 December 2011. http:/repository.shareinvestor.com/ rptview.pl/id/fe6ffff000832d0d38ccfbfdf81cd5c6a88fb5867333ce32122 87dac390f6c08/type/sinews 55 Parkway Holdings Limited. “Appointment Of New Chairman And New Directors”. 25 August 2010. 8 December 2011. http://www.parkwayhealth. com/Library/1/publications/3/100825appointmentofnewchairmanand newdirectors.pdf 67The Failed SGXASX “Merger” The Failed SGXASX “Merger” “Money has started to go crossborder much faster than we as exchanges have helped it to do so, and exchanges have been a little bit behind on that. We come from an environment where we are not used to helping our clients facilitate their business.” — Magnus Bocker, on why he believes the 1 SGXASX merger is essential Case Overview In what Magnus Bocker, CEO of the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX), regarded as the biggest acquisition move of the decade, the proposed merger between the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and SGX was considered by him to be beneficial to both parties. However, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan rejected the proposed takeover. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the role of the boards of acquiring and target companies in a merger or acquisition deal, whether the proposed merger was beneficial to shareholders of SGX and ASX, the divergence of interests of different stakeholders, the role of shareholders in approving a merger or acquisition, and corporate governance issues surrounding mergers and acquisitions. This is an abridged version of a case initially prepared by Cheong Jian Jie, Ong Ying Min, and Yu Chenghui under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Amanda Seah Jia Hui under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 68The Failed SGXASX “Merger” The Growth of SGX Founded in 1991 through the merger of the Stock Exchange of Singapore (SES) and the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX), SGX began operations with a listing of 307 companies having a total market capitalisation of S263 billion. It was demutualised in 1999. In 2000, it became the first publiclyheld exchange in AsiaPacific with its shares listed on its own exchange. One of the major shareholders resulting from SGX’s IPO was SEL Holdings Pte Ltd, with a 29 per cent 2 stake. SEL is a whollyowned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd . Following its listing, SGX expanded its presence in the global securities markets and the diversity of share offerings. SGX also entered into joint ventures with the American Stock Exchange 3 4 (AMEX) in June 1999 and ChiX Global in October 2010 , allowing it to improve its competiveness against its key regional competitor, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE). The joint venture with ChiX created a platform for ‘dark pool’ trading. Apart from joint ventures, acquisition was also on SGX’s agenda. Over the years, SGX has acquired a stake in foreign exchanges such as Bombay Stock Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Philippine Dealing System Holding Corporation. Within Singapore, SGX also acquired the Singapore Commodity 5 Exchange Ltd on 30 June 2008 . All these enhanced SGX’s market attractiveness, increased its market depth and liquidity, and provided more product offerings to investors. One of the results of the rapid expansion was the listing of 774 companies 6 in SGX with a total market capitalisation of S650 billion as of 2010, up from 307 companies when it began operations in 1991. Notwithstanding this, SGX continued to look for alliance and acquisition opportunities that will help it to grow and compete with neighbouring exchanges. Then came the opportunity to acquire the Australian Stock Exchange 7 (ASX) . 69The Failed SGXASX “Merger” The Deal of the Decade On 23 October 2010, major newspapers and media across Singapore and Australia were filled with headlines on the potential merger between SGX and ASX. SGX had proposed to acquire all the shares of ASX in a deal that SGX argued was in the best interests of the shareholders of both parties. Under the proposal, SGX offered A48 per ASX share, 8 paying in both cash and SGX shares . The result of the merger would 9 be a combined entity with a market value of US12.3 billion , making it the second largest stock exchange in Asia after the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by market value. The united bourses would also be the second largest exchange in the region after the Bombay Stock Exchange 10 in terms of the number of listed companies . The merger would give SGX a total listing of 2,700 companies from over 20 countries. The proposed merger would also create the largest number of listings of real estate investment trusts (REITs) in Asia Pacific, and the 11 widest range of Asia Pacific derivatives in the world . However, the deal had to overcome a number of hurdles. First, the approval of Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan was required for the merger to go through. Second, the Australian parliament had to approve altering the 15 per cent foreign shareholding limit in ASX to accommodate 12 the merger . Finally, the approval from shareholders of both exchanges was needed. Reaction from Down Under There were mixed reactions from Australia. ASX CEO Robert Elstone tried to convince ASX shareholders and the relevant regulatory bodies on the merits of the deal. He argued that the merger would benefit both ASX and the country. Elstone was well aware that the looming competition at its doorstep would pose a significant threat to ASX after it lost its market supervisory power to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), 13 the national securities regulator . 70The Failed SGXASX “Merger” Elstone also knew that ASX would lose its monopoly by 2011 with the high speed trading platform, ChiX Global, poised to enter the Australia 14 15 market . As ChiX waited three years for its license to be approved, ASX upgraded its technology systems, introduced new order types and 16 reduced trading fees . Facing mostly negative comments in Australia about the proposed merger, Elstone still continued to argue that it was in Australia’s national interest. He called on the politicians to decide whether “is the national interest best served by boxing the domestic exchange into its existing strong but confinedtoAustralia franchise, or should it allow its domestic exchange 17 to truly internationalise” According to Elstone: “We can't see how this is contrary to the national interest. The combined exchange will be both more regionally relevant and globally relevant than the sum of its parts. The attractiveness of a combined pool of listings and 18 a combined pool of liquidity would make this combination unique.” To further bolster support for SGX’s bid, ASX commissioned a report by Access Economics to assess whether the merger was in Australia’s 19 national interest. On 6 December 2010, the report by Access Economics concluded that the “formation would promote Australia’s national interest 20 since it is highly likely to raise the economic welfare of Australians. ” According to ASX, the deal will help Australia become an Asian financial hub, allow Australians to diversify their savings, and lower local companies’ 21 capital costs. Ian Harper, director at Access Economics, argued that the takeover will “open the pipe or channel between the Australian financial 22 markets and the markets in Asia” On the other hand, some ASX shareholders felt that SGX was taking 23 advantage of ASX . While SGX was a bigger exchange in terms of 24 25 market value , ASX had a larger market of 2,000 listed companies 26 compared to 774 companies listed on SGX . The subsequent increase in ASX's share price from A34.96 on 22 October 2010 to A41.75 on 25 27 October 2010 when the announcement was made public also meant that SGX would appear to be buying ASX shares on the cheap. This did not go down well with retail investors, who owned half of ASX. 71The Failed SGXASX “Merger” The Australian Stockbrokers Association was also sceptical of the proposal. According to the association, the deal would undermine the Australian market and benefits for Australian companies were not apparent. There was uncertainty over issues such as how capital raising opportunities would be made easier or cheaper, how clients dealing with the region would be protected, and the effect on Australia’s status as a regional financial centre given that the proposal would essentially mean 28 that the Australian market would be under the control of Singapore . Australian lawmaker Bob Katter lashed out at the deal, saying that it was 29 a sellout of national assets and “lunacy on a grand scale” . Concessions by SGX Many commentators had expressed the view that the proposed merger 30 was, in fact, a takeover by SGX . In the initial proposal, SGX was to assume greater control of the board, with Chew Choon Seng, the current SGX Chairman becoming the Chairman of the combined entity, the current ASX Chairman David Gonski becoming the Deputy Chairman, and Magnus Bocker becoming the CEO. However, the 15member board will include only four Australian directors. On 15 February 2011, SGX announced a revised proposal under which there will be an equal number of Australian and Singaporean directors on the new board. The 13member board will comprise five Australian 31 citizens, five Singaporeans and three international directors . On 11 March 2011, SGX submitted a formal application to the Foreign 32 Investment Review Board (FIRB) based on the amended terms . The 33 FIRB’s decision was set to be announced on 11 April 2011 . Rejection on the Cards By early April, it was becoming clear that the deal was falling apart. On 5 April 2011, the long awaited silence was broken when the FIRB said that Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan was “disposed to reject the proposed 72The Failed SGXASX “Merger” merger between ASX and SGX as contrary to Australia’s national 34 interest” . Although the final decision had not been made at the time, the comment triggered a positive response in SGX’s share price, which jumped as much as 6.5 per cent to S8.53, while ASX’s share price fell 3.3 per 35 cent to A33.70 . This was a contrast to the market reaction when the deal was announced, with SGX’s share price falling and ASX share price increasing. Bocker, however, was optimistic. He said that no further amendments would be made to the existing proposal, and that there did not seem 36 to be criticism of the proposed structure from Swan . SGX also announced that, should the deal be aborted, they “will continue to pursue organic as well as other strategic growth opportunities, 37 including further dialogue with ASX on other forms of cooperation." The (Un)Expected Verdict On 8 April 2011, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan rejected the proposed 38 deal . According to Swan, “This is not a merger. It’s a takeover that would see 39 Australia’s financial sector become a subsidiary to a competitor in Asia. ” Swan added that “this takeover would not enhance our access to global financial markets”. The claims made by the applicants didn’t stack up. I 40 had no hesitation in rejecting it. ” According to Swan, “the deal would not provide a gateway to Asian capital flows as SGX has limited flows to 41 the rest of Asia. ” The approval of the merger would also see ASX as the “junior partner”. To some observers, the strong disapproval of the FIRB against the tieup was surprising. In Swan’s words, that was “not normally the attitude of 42 the FIRB” . Concerns were also raised by the Treasury, Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission with 43 regard to the regulatory oversight . 73The Failed SGXASX “Merger” Swan was sceptical about being able to have full regulatory sovereignty over the ASXSGX holding company and this could present significant risks and supervisory issues when it comes to regulating the exchange operations effectively. To him, it was an irony to have ASX becoming a subsidiary to a smaller regional competitor in Asia. The announcement on 8 April shattered the dream of SGX in becoming one of the largest exchanges in the world. Shortly after the announcement, SGX shares rose 2.82 per cent and closed at S8.38, while ASX shares 44 fell 0.45 per cent and closed at A33.33 . 45 The merger attempt had cost SGX an estimated S12 million . SGX Moving Forward Over the nine months to March 2011, SGX’s average daily turnover was S1.68 billion, which fell short of the projected S1.95 billion per day. 46 SGX felt it needed to embark on its growth strategy to increase turnover. This is especially so when crossborder deals have become prevalent 47 among exchanges around the world , allowing other exchanges to build up scale and cut cost to maintain competitiveness. SGX also had to seek similar growth opportunities in increasing its crosslisting platforms with other exchanges to attract more regional companies to list on SGX. 74The Failed SGXASX “Merger” Discussion Questions 1. What are the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors in a merger or takeover situation 2. In a merger or takeover situation, the interests of different stakeholders and even different shareholders may diverge. In the case of the proposed SGXASX merger, which stakeholders favoured the merger and which did not Why 3. To what extent should shareholders of the two exchanges be allowed to decide on whether the SGXASX merger should proceed, or should other stakeholders also have a say Explain. 4. In general, what are the key corporate governance issues faced in a merger or takeover Endnotes: 1 Wright, Chris. “Magnus Bocker: The man behind the world’s exchange mergers”. 18 December 2010. Chris Wright Media. 10 April 2011. http://www.chriswrightmedia.com/theaustralianthemanbehindthe worldsexchangemergers/ 2 Tan, Chwee Huat. “Singapore Financial and Business Sourcebook.” 2002. 2nd Ed. Singapore University Press, Google Books. Web. 14 December 2011. 3 Monetary Authority of Singapore. Annual Report 2000/2001. http://www.mas.gov.sg/aboutus/annualreports/annual20002001/ EquityDerivativesannualc.html, accessed on 14 December 2011. 4 Lim, Kevin. “SGXChiX joint venture starts “dark pool” operations”, 10 November 2010. Reuters. 14 December 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/11/11/chieastidUSSGC0038402 0101111 5 Futures Options World. “SGX appoint new CEO of Sicom following acquisition”, 20 June 2008. 14 December 2011. http://www.fow.com/Article.aspxArticleID=1960524 75The Failed SGXASX “Merger” 6 “The Singapore Exchange SGX”, N.D. 14 December 2011. Business Week. http://bx.businessweek.com/thesingaporeexchangesgx/news/page4/ 7 Lee, Jamie. “SGX set to launch A6b offer for ASX”, 23 October 2010. Asiaone News. 14 December 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/News/ The2BBusiness2BTimes/Story/A1Story20101023243855.html 8 A48 per share consist of A22 in cash and 3.473 shares of SGX. From: Grant, Jeremy; Smith, Peter. “SGX shares slip on ASX takeover plan”, 24 October 2010. The Financial Times. 14 December 2011. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f0e0b39cdf8b11dfbed900144feabdc0. htmlaxzz1gZLFEqeg 9 ASX Group. “ASX and SGX combine to create the premier international exchange in Asia Pacific the heart of global growth”, 25 October 2010. http://www.asxgroup.com.au/media/PDFs/20101025asxsgxmedia release.pdf, accessed on 14 December 2011 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 12 Smith, Peter; Brown, Kevin. “SGX unveils concessions on ASX deal”, 15 February 2011. The Financial Times. 14 December 2011. http:// www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0527028c38ad11e0959c00144feabdc0. htmlaxzz1gZLFEqeg 13 Washington, Stuart. “ASX loses supervisory power to ASIC”, 24 August 2009. The Age. 14 December 2011. http://www.theage.com.au/business/ asxlosessupervisorypowerstoasic20090824evlt.html 14 Lee, Jamie. “SGX set to launch A6b offer for ASX”, 23 October 2010. Asiaone News. 14 December 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/News/ The2BBusiness2BTimes/Story/A1Story20101023243855.html 15 Australia Global Custodian. “ChiX Australia to Launch in October After ThreeYear Regulatory Wait”, 29 June 2011. http://australia. globalcustodian.com/news/MarketInfrastructure/ChiXAustraliatoLaunch inOctoberAfterThreeYearRegulatoryWait/40377, accessed on 14 December 2011. 16 Investment Technology Group. “Under Pressure: How Competition is Changing the Asia Pacific Markets”, 24 November 2010. http://www. itg.com/newsevents/insights/InRowsell112410.pdf, accessed on 29 December 2011. 76The Failed SGXASX “Merger” 17 Verrender, Ian. “Again, eerie silence descends on ASX after reported death of Singapore bid”, 22 March 2011. The Age. 14 December 2011. http:// www.theage.com.au/business/againeeriesilencedescendsonasxafter reporteddeathofsingaporebid201103211c3q9.html 18 “SGX bid not against national interest, says ASX chief”, 2 November 2010. Channel News Asia. 14 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ stories/afpasiapacificbusiness/view/1090849/1/.html 19 “ASXSGX: Why the combination is in Australia’s national interest”, 6 December 2010. Access Economics. 20 April 2011. http://www.asxgroup.com.au/media/PDFs/20101206ASXSGX AccessReport.pdf 20 “ASX says report supports view Australia benefits from SGX merger”, 6 December 2010. The Edge. 20 April 2011. http://www.theedgesingapore.com/thedailyedge/business/23907asx saysreportsupportsviewaustraliabenefitsfromsgxmerger.html 21 Ibid. 22 Buckley, Ross. “Australia’s Curious Courtship of the SGX”, 17 April 2011. Jakarta Globe. 14 December 2011. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/ commentary/australiascuriouscourtshipofthesgx/435686 23 Thurlow, Rebecca; Tudor, Alison; P.R. Venkat . “ASX, Singapore Exchange Face Deal Hurdles”, 25 October 2010. Wall Street Journal. 20 April 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304915104575573092152 978692.html 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 “THE SINGAPORE EXCHANGE (SGX)”, 29 December 2011. Business Week. http://bx.businessweek.com/thesingaporeexchangesgx/jobs/ 27 “Singapore, Australian bourses to form new trading powerhouse”, 25 October 2010. Channel News Asia. 29 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia. com/stories/afpasiapacificbusiness/view/1089179/1/.html 28 Lannin, Sue; Ryan, Peter. “Stockbrokers back ASX takeover rejection”, 23 May 2011. ABC News. 20 April 2011. http://www.abc.net.au/news/20110408/stockbrokersbackasxtakeoverre jection/2622570section=business 77The Failed SGXASX “Merger” 29 Thurlow, Rebecca; Tudor, Alison; P.R. Venkat . “ASX, Singapore Exchange Face Deal Hurdles”, 25 October 2010. Wall Street Journal. 20 April 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304915104575573092152 978692.html 30 “Canberra blocks ASXSGX merger”, 8 April 2011. Channel News Asia. 15 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp singaporebusiness/view/1121431/1/.html 31 Gu, Wei; Foley, John. “SGX’s new offer may get ASX deal over the line”, 16 February 2011. Asia One Business. 15 December 2011. http://www. asiaone.com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20110216263715.html 32 “SGX lodges ASX merger proposal with Australia’s FIRB”, 11 March 2011. Asiaone. 15 December 2011.http://ir.asiaone.com/News/Latest2BNews/ Business/Story/A1Story20110311267578.html 33 “Australian Treasurer intends to reject bourse merger proposal SGX”, 6 April 2011. People’s Daily. 15 December 2011. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90851/7341553.html 34 Nicholson, Chris V. “Regulators Set to Reject Merger of Singapore and Australia Exchanges”, 5 April 2011. The New York Times Dealbook. 15 December 2011. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/australia saysitssettorejectsgxasxmerger/ 35 Raja, Shani; Daley, Gemma. “Singapore Exchange’s 7.9 Billion takeover of ASX is on Brink of Collapse”, 5 April 2011. Bloomberg. 15 December 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20110405/asxsayssingapore exchangetoldaustraliadisposedtorejecttakeoverbid.html 36 Nicholson, Chris V. “Regulators Set to Reject Merger of Singapore and Australia Exchanges”, 5 April 2011. The New York Times Dealbook. 15 December 2011. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/australia saysitssettorejectsgxasxmerger/ 37 “SGX ‘to look at other forms of cooperation with ASX”, 5 April 2011. The Straits Times. 15 December 2011. http://www.straitstimes.com/ BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory653132.html 38 “Canberra blocks ASXSGX merger”, 8 April 2011. The Straits Times. 15 December 2011. http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/ Story/STIStory654395.html 78The Failed SGXASX “Merger” 39 Johnston, Eric. “ASX merger block a ‘nobrainer’”, 9 April 2011. The Age. 15 December 2011. http://www.theage.com.au/national/asxmergerblock anobrainer201104081d7wa.html 40 Raja, Shani; Daley, Gemma. “‘No Brainer’ for Australia to Stop Singapore Exchange’s ASX Bid, Swan Says”, 7 April 2011. Bloomberg Mobile. 26 December 2011. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/20110408/no brainerforaustraliatostopsingaporeexchangesasxbidswansays 41 Johnston, Eric. “Singapore finally walks from ASX bid”, 8 April 2011. The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 December 2011. http://www.smh.com.au/business/singaporefinallywalksfromasxbid 201104081d6o4.html 42 Raja, Shani; Daley, Gemma. “Australia’s Swan Says ‘No Brainer’ to Reject Singapore ASX Bid”, 8 April 2011. Bloomberg. 15 December 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20110407/swanrejectssingapore exchangestakeoverofasxonnationalinterest.html 43 Ibid. 44 “Canberra blocks ASXSGX merger”, 8 April 2011. Channel News Asia. 15 December 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp singaporebusiness/view/1121431/1/.html 45 “SGX posts lowest profit in 2 years, ASX bid costs hit”, 19 April 2011. The Straits Times. 20 April 2011. http://www.straitstimes.com/ BreakingNews/Money/Story/STIStory658462.html 46 Tan, Shih Min. “Singapore Exchange may have to look for another MA target to stay competitive”, 11 April 2011. Xinhua. 20 April 2011. http:// news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/business/201104/11/c13823731.htm 47 Ibid. 79The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside Case Overview 1 Ever since its SESDAQ listing at a price of 32 cents per share in March 2004, New Lakeside Holdings Limited (New Lakeside) had issued a number of profit warnings and had been plagued by corporate governance issues and audit qualifications. Things worsened when its statutory auditor, LTC LLP (LTC), claimed that the Group had made 2 “fraudulent misrepresentations” in their 2009 financial statements. By the time LTC reported the matter to the Minister of Finance for possible breach of the Companies Act in September 2010, the share price had 3 plunged to 2 cents per share . Despite a major restructuring exercise, the situation was beyond salvage for New Lakeside. On 1 November 2010, New Lakeside filed with the High Court to be placed under judicial management. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as challenges for independent directors in a management controlled company, accounting and auditing issues, and the roles of directors, auditors, regulators and other intermediaries. The Beginnings of New Lakeside Incorporated in Singapore in 2002, New Lakeside produced and sold apple juice concentrate to multinational corporations in the food beverages industry. The Group had two whollyowned subsidiaries Sanmenxia Lakeside Fruit Juice Co. Ltd (LFJ) and New Lakeside (Sanmenxia) Co. This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Athena Chan, Elaine Ang, Elicia Ng, Emily Sim, and Regina Lin under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Amanda Aw Yong under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 80The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside Ltd (NLS). The apple juice concentrate produced was used to make packet juice drinks, soft drinks, cider, yoghurt and candies. The Group also produced animal feed using apple pomace from the production of apple juice concentrate to supplement its main business. New Lakeside had customers in North America, Southeast Asia and Western Europe. In March 2004, New Lakeside became the first company (since August 2003) to close below its initial public offer (IPO) price, at 30.5 cents per share compared to its IPO price of 32 cents per share. Several other listings also fell below their IPO prices. Poor market confidence after a terrorist attack in Spain, a political standstill in Taiwan and correction on Wall Street were cited as reasons for the bearish Singapore market. Other analysts, however, attributed New Lakeside’s low IPO price to inherent problems with its business model – a singleproduct business which was highly leveraged. Absence of Profit Warning As 30 June 2004 approached, many Chinese companies listed on the Singapore Exchange began to issue profit warnings. As New Lakeside did not issue a profit warning, its reported net loss of RMB 9.4 million (S1.95 million) for the sixmonth period ended 30 June 2004 shocked 4 the market. In a statement to the SGX , New Lakeside attributed the loss to the increase in administrative expenses, selling and distributing expenses, and finance costs. Revenue also decreased due to the unusually higher sales for financial year (FY) 2003, which in turn was due to U.S. orders taken in 2002 but fulfilled in 2003. The independent directors (IDs) – Chairman Alan Yeo, Hwang Soo Chin and Leong Siew Loon – were unaware of the loss until four days before the release of the financial results. In reaction to the shock loss, the directors commissioned a special audit, carried out by Chinabased auditors Henan Chenghe Accounting Firm, to review the circumstances surrounding the loss. They also commissioned a physical stock count in the Group’s subsidiaries. 81The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside The First Special Audit The special audit uncovered numerous accounting irregularities, and reactions from Moore Stephens (the external auditors) and the directors of New Lakeside in response to the irregularities, were as follows: Special Audit Findings Responses from Moore Stephens by Chenghe and Directors Failure of subsidiary LFJ to Moore Stephens: Chenghe had not computed abide by China’s enterprise the COS on a consolidated basis. With the accounting system resulted in an exclusion of the accounts of Lingyi factory, understatement of cost of sales a branch of LFJ, it was difficult to prove a (COS) and overstatement of substantial misstatement of COS. profits amounting to RMB 24.4 Directors: Agreed. million (S4.9 million). Moore Stephens: A reversal for the difference Asset inflation Assets bought for was done. RMB 6.4 million were recorded at about RMB 47.4 million. Directors: Satisfied at the reversal of the entry. Moore Stephen: Made a provision of RMB 4.1 Prepaid freight charges (on behalf of customers) of RMB 16.3 million million for long outstanding receivables. were classified as receivables in Directors: To continue to monitor the LFJ’s accounts when the recovery recoverability of these receivables and review was uncertain. the policy of freight prepayment. (a) Two unusual sales transactions (a) Directors believed those sales were provided for by Moore Stephens. (b) A physical stock count showed an overstatement of LFJ’s stock (b) Directors assured that measures have been taken to ensure proper bookkeeping. of approximately RMB 2.8 million. Trouble Brewing in the Boardroom The IDs called for a meeting to review the findings of the special audit. 5 Unconvinced by the “inadequate explanations” provided by the then MD Sun Jiwei and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Xu Lixin, the IDs discharged them from their duties to avoid “a dereliction of our duties 6 for all shareholders” . However, later in the same month, Sun was unexpectedly reinstated as the jointMD, together with the appointment of another MD Go Twan Heng, who was also the majority shareholder. 82The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside The directors of the subsidiaries were also reappointed, together with 7 other new directors on the New Lakeside board . In the end, the IDs did not cast their vote to oust Sun and the directors of the subsidiaries, as they realised that their votes could not influence the decisions made as 8 the executive directors held the majority of the Group’s shares . JointMD Sun Sacked Over First Profit Warning Though New Lakeside appeared to be heading towards better times with the new structure, the Group released its first profit warning for the halfyear ended 30 June 2005. While sales had increased, the larger increase in cost of production had eroded its profits. The Group expected the losses to persist in the subsequent halfyear. Believing that its loss of RMB 66.2 million (S13.7 million) in the first half of 2005 was due to Sun’s incompetence, the board of directors terminated Sun’s position as 9 the jointMD . Go then assumed the post of the sole MD. Following that, Professor Wang Sixin, an executive director, and general manager and director of two subsidiaries, also resigned. Shaken Confidence To make matters worse, the Group reported that it might suffer an estimated loss of RMB10 million in its second halfyear due to the shortage in raw materials and unfavourable weather conditions. In the end, FY2005 ended with an accumulated loss of RMB98 million (S19.7 million). External auditors TeoFoongWongLCLoong also raised going concern issues, suggesting that New Lakeside might not be able to meet its financial obligations. The profit warnings continued into the first half of 2006, with a reported net loss of RMB12 million. However, the Group incurred lower losses, as compared to the first half of 2005, due to the measures taken by the new management to minimise costs. Despite having implemented those steps, the Group still performed below market expectations. Coupled with the unauthorised RMB250 million guarantees made by LFJ (approved by MD Sun), the financial position of New Lakeside could not be any worse. 83The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside Restructuring Exercise In 2006, Go implemented a major restructuring strategy across the firm in 10 hopes of turning things around. Two lossmaking subsidiaries in China were sold for a token amount of RMB5 (S1) each, along with their net liabilities. The gain on disposal of the two subsidiaries totalled RMB86.96 million, which more than offset the loss from operations for FY2006. Under the SGX listing rules, companies which suffered losses for three consecutive years would be placed on its watchlist, while those which 11 reported losses for five consecutive years would be delisted . Due to the gain from disposals, New Lakeside saw its first profit in three years. The other business of manufacturing animal feed, which required coal to dry the apple pulp, was closed down to limit the risk exposure of the escalating cost of coal. The fiscal year end was also changed from 31 December to 30 June the reason given was to align the fiscal year to the apple pressing 12 season in order to better reflect the Group’s operating cycles . Joint Venture with Zhonglu Go’s efforts in rebuilding the Group initially appeared to be effective, based on the return to profitability in 2006 and 2007. Good news came in July 2008 when Shanghailisted SDIC Zhonglu Fruit Juice Co. (Zhonglu) decided to invest S12.25 million of its manufacturing assets in New Lakeside, thereby acquiring a 24.57 per cent stake (98 million shares). As a producer and seller of fruit juice concentrates, Zhonglu was a leading player in the apple juice concentrate industry, with 14 per cent of 13 the Chinese market . Having an established industry player as a major shareholder could potentially help resolve New Lakeside’s financing woes, improve its management support, and significantly increase its production in the shortrun. New Lakeside, in turn, was able to offer Zhonglu better access to international capital through its SGX listing. Go expected the joint venture to generate immediate cost savings and increased profits through the ability to buy cheaper apples. Together with tighter cost control and a commercially profitable arrangement, FY2008 was the second profitable year for New Lakeside since its 2004 listing. 84The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside The Point of No Return However, the joint venture with Zhonglu was not able to turn the situation around for the Group. More profit warnings came in July 2009 and again in January 2010. New Lakeside’s financial statements raised a red flag, with net current liabilities reported at RMB93.16 million (S19.1 million) and negative operating cashflows of RMB12.74 million. This prompted the newlyappointed auditors, LTC, to warn investors of potential going concern risks. The situation worsened in January 2010 when the Group could not pay its debts. NLX was under pressure from a claim of RMB22.75 million arising from a guarantee given to a former subsidiary of the Group, LFJ. This reduced NLX to a state of insolvency, which sparked further 14 immediate claims amounting to RMB24.5 million from two other banks . 15 To make matters worse, two other individual lenders also demanded the repayment of a S6.56 million loan they had given to the Group in 2006. This raised significant going concern issues for New Lakeside. Amid the mounting cash flow problems, CFO Oh Gim Teck resigned on 11 June 2010, after the failure to reach a consensus among the executive 16 directors on how to resolve the issue . A Trail of Audit Qualifications New Lakeside had several qualified auditors’ opinions relating to 17 significant accountingrelated issues . However, New Lakeside was not required to take mandatory courses of action to address those issues. Regulators also did not act. In April 2005, Moore Stephens issued an opinion with an emphasis of matter relating to trade debtors of RMB7.3 million which had been outstanding for more than a year. In April 2006, the new auditors, TeoFoongWongLCLoong, qualified their opinion for FY2005, citing going concern issues and their inability to form an opinion on the existence of inventories which were written off, writeoff of freight charges, and validity and treatment of certain expenses. In April 2007, Baker Tilly also qualified 85The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside their opinion, citing goingconcern issues and inability to verify unaudited management accounts of subsidiaries, which had been disposed of during the year. In October 2007, New Lakeside changed its financial yearend from December to June.The set of accounts issued in October 2008 were again qualified by Baker Tilly, this time citing their inability to verify financial guarantees given by a subsidiary and the recoverability of sundry receivables. Their report also contained an emphasis of matter relating to the company’s ability to meet its financial obligations. In April 2009, New Lakeside changed its auditors to LTC, and in October 2009, when the company reported a net loss of RMB84.9 million, the external auditors’ opinion contained only an emphasis of matter, albeit an important one relating to ‘material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about ability to continue as going concern’. However, in September 2010, LTC informed the audit committee chairman that fraudulent representations may have been made in the course of the 2009 audit and therefore their audit opinion for 2009 could no longer be relied upon. LTC also made a report to the Minister of Finance. No More Juice With a net loss of RMB84.9 million in FY2009 followed by another net loss of RMB64.1 million for the following financial year, the situation spiralled out of control. New Lakeside finally filed with the Court to be 18 placed under judicial management , and the Group’s shares were officially suspended from trading. “We are of the view that the company will be unable to pay its debts as a result of recent developments.” — Board of New Lakeside in its filing to SGX, 2 November 2010 (The Business Times) This spelt the end of New Lakeside’s precarious, shortlived existence. 86The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside Discussion Questions 1. What are the challenges faced by independent directors in a company like New Lakeside, where management are also significant shareholders 2. “The tone of at the top significantly influences a company’s corporate governance.” How much would you attribute the downfall of New Lakeside to the weak tone at the top Who do you think was ultimately responsible for the demise of the Group 3. What actions could have been taken after the first Special Audit findings were revealed 4. Given the legal requirement for companies to comply with accounting standards and the accountingrelated provisions in the Companies Act, do you think the company has broken any laws 5. Given the trail of audit qualifications before New Lakeside was placed under judicial management, could more have been done If so, what and by whom 6. Discuss the roles of the auditors, regulators and New Lakeside’s sponsor, CNP Compliance, in this case. Do you believe they had performed their roles effectively 87The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside Endnotes: 1 SESDAQ stands for Stock Exchange of Singapore Dealing and Automated Quotation. 2 Lee, J. “New Lakeside auditors flag possible misrepresentations; Matter brought to attention of audit committee and Minister of Finance”, 3 September 2010. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 3 Bloomberg. 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/quoteticker=NLH:SP, accessed on April 2011. 4 “New Lakeside suffers 2M loss”, 15 September 2004. The Straits Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 5 Goh Eng Yeow. “New Lakeside relieves MD and CFO of their duties; Execs may be removed from board for ‘inadequate’ answers to queries by directors”, 3 November 2004. The Straits Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 6 Lim, Kenneth. “New Lakeside independent directors lauded; Stock rises after they call for ouster of two key directors”, 3 November 2004. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 7 Lim, Kenneth. “New Lakeside CFO quits, MD reinstated; Directors of its subsidiaries who were removed earlier were also reappointed”, 26 November 2004. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 8 As of the date of Prospectus, 12 March 2004, Go held 58.79 per cent deemed interest in New Lakeside, Sun Held 10.06 per cent whereas Xu held 5.34 per cent. 9 Wong, Kelvin. “New Lakeside axes joint MD after 14m loss”, 15 August 2005. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 10 The two lossmaking subsidiaries, Sanmexia Lakeside Fruit Juice Co (LFJ) and New Lakeside (Sanmexia) Co Ltd (NLS), were sold to Tecko Technology Ltd for a nominal consideration of S1 each. 88The Sour Apple: The Fall and Fall of New Lakeside 11 Howells, Chris. “SGX announces delisting of 5 lossmaking firms on its watch list”, 30 March 2010. Channel NewsAsia. April 2011. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/ view/1046884/1/.html. 12 New Lakeside Holdings Limited. Annual Report 2008. 13 Cheong, Angeline. “Corporate: Asset injection by major shareholder will give New Lakeside more bite”, 13 October 2008 The Edge Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus. edu.sg/ap/academic. 14 China Construction Bank and Industrial Commercial Bank of China, for a total sum of RMB24.5 million. 15 Ho Kam Har (MD Go’s wife) and Go Wei Ho. 16 Khoo, L. “New Lakeside CFO hands in quit notice; Move comes in wake of board differences over cashflow problems”, 7 April 2010. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 17 Mak Yuen Teen. “Souring of an apple juice maker”, 27 December 2010. The Business Times Singapore, p7 18 “New Lakeside Holdings files for judicial management”, 2 November 2010. The Business Times Singapore, via LexisNexis Academic. April 2011. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/ap/academic. 89CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal CITIC PACIFIC: Foreign Exchange Scandal Case Overview In February 2008, CITIC Pacific’s (CP) stock price sat at a high of HK43. But within a mere 8 months, it plunged by 92 per cent to HK3.66 after a foreign exchange scandal which led to a loss of some US2 billion. This loss was attributed to the unauthorised betting on foreign exchange derivative contracts that were supposedly hedges against currency risks. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as board composition, risk management, executive compensation and other corporate governance practices. Unauthorised Bets on Foreign Exchange Derivative Contracts CP’s investment in a Western Australia iron ore mining project involved 1 an estimated capital commitment of A1.6 billion and €85 million . In addition, annual operating expenditure of at least A1 billion for up to 25 years was projected. CP’s cash projections were denominated in USD, but these expenses were paid in Australian dollars and Euros, thus exposing CP to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. To hedge against these risks, CP entered into This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Clara Chua, Clarice Koh, and Low Wai Ling under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Amanda Aw Yong under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 90CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal contracts to deliver USD in return for AUD and EUR. These actions were common to mitigate business risks. The unique problem faced by CP, however, arose from its use of “foreign exchange accumulators”. Accumulators, including currency target redemption forward contracts and daily accrual contracts, were employed by CP. Unlike regular derivatives, accumulators have a unique characteristic: the knockout clause. The knockout feature causes the contracts to expire once CP achieves a stipulated profit from the contracts. While the upside gain of the hedging instrument was confined, losses could be unlimited, thus resulting in an asymmetrical payoff. “This wasn’t a hedge, this was an outright bet,” said David Webb, a well 2 known corporate governance activist in Hong Kong. CP’s transactions involved substantial risks that far exceeded its actual hedging needs. The mining project required only an initial capital expenditure of A1.6 3 billion, yet it entered into contracts for over A9 billion. 90 per cent of these hedging contracts were entered into when the Australian Dollar hit a high of 87 cents against the USD in October 2008. Hence, when the Australian dollar fell by 20 percent to 70 cents against the USD, a loss of 4 HK15.5 billion was expected. This news alarmed investors, who were unaware of the extent of exposure 5 to these leveraged Australian Dollar contracts . It also became clear that the company knew of the exposure as early as 7 September 2008, six weeks before giving a profit warning. The profit warning caused a 74.8 per cent plunge in CP’s share price from HK14.52 to a record low of HK3.66, compared with its HK43 peak in February 2008. CP’s Board of Directors CP had 19 directors on the board. The board was led by the Chairman, Larry Yung ChiKin, who is also an executive director. There were 12 executive directors and seven nonexecutive directors, four of whom 91CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal are deemed independent pursuant to the Listing Rules. Two of the independent directors were brothers. CP’s board appeared to comprise qualified and competent individuals. Their competencies and industry expertise indicated that they should be familiar with Hong Kong’s regulations. Despite this, the board failed to announce CP’s loss immediately, violating Listing Rule 13.09 that 6 requires prompt disclosure of pricesensitive information . Executive Compensation CP’s compensation strategy was set to cultivate a payforperformance 7 culture . CP’s senior management personnel had a substantial portion of cash compensation linked to performancebased variables to reflect their contribution to the firm’s financial performance. Yung’s total remuneration was made up of 94 per cent of discretionary bonuses and sharebased payment, while for Managing Director Henry Fan Hung Ling, it was 95 per cent. On top of his compensation, Yung received an additional HK569 million in dividends from his 19 per cent stake in CP. Amalgamation of Ownership and Management Control of the company rested in the hands of Yung and CP’s major 8 corporate shareholder, CITIC Group . This was a situation where the major shareholders held both ownership and management control over the company. The failure to separate ownership and management enabled the controllers to benefit from the asymmetric information. Before the derivative losses occurred, CP’s two largest individual shareholders frequently raised their stakes in the company. However, they suddenly 9 stopped these moves in early September . The Yung family appeared to be influential in CP’s management, with founder Larry Yung helming the Chairman position and his son Carl Yung as the Deputy Managing Director. Before the foreign exchange 92CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal controversy, Frances Yung, the daughter of Larry Yung, also occupied a senior management position of Director, Group Finance. Regulatory Policies in Place In the profit warning dated 20 October 2008, the Company indicated that it was “aware of the exposure arising from these contracts on 7 10 September 2008” . That the company needed six weeks to comprehend the financial parameters and risks of its derivatives contracts was a non realistically long time. The failure to promptly disclose pricesensitive information violated Listing Rule 13.09. However, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) does not have the power to investigate breaches of disclosure requirements. There are no legal penalties for nondisclosure 11 of pricesensitive information. In an unrelated circular dated 16 September 2008, the directors expressed a view that there were “no material adverse changes in the company 12 during the year up to 9 September 2008” . This contradicts the profit warning which indicated the Company had known of the losses as early as 7 September 2008. This indicates a possible false and misleading statement, which may subject directors to liability under section 298 of the Securities and Futures Ordinance. Failed Internal Controls The effectiveness of CP’s internal control system is reviewed regularly by the Group Internal Audit Department. The department also conducts systematic independent evaluations of all business units and subsidiaries in the Group on a continual basis. However, internal controls can only provide reasonable, but not absolute, assurance against any material misstatements or elimination of risks, as seen from the failure of these controls. The foreign derivatives contracts were made without proper authorisation and adequate evaluation of its potential risk exposure. Chang, the Group’s Finance Director, did not follow CP’s hedging policy: he failed to adhere to 93CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal standard procedures of obtaining prior approval of the Chairman before committing to contracts. Furthermore, monitoring mechanisms failed to serve their purpose. The Group Financial Controller’s purpose as a check and balance fell through when Group Financial Controller Chau Chi Yin did not notify the Chairman of any unusual hedging transactions. Steps Taken Towards Recovery Management reshuffle On 8 April 2009, CP announced a top management reshuffle. This involved the resignations of CP’s founding chairman, Yung, and Managing Director, Fan. The resignations came at a time of police investigations. In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, CITIC Pacific said “Mr Yung believed that his resignation would be in the best interests of the company.” Chang Zhenming, the vice chairman and president of CITIC group, took over as chairman of CP. Zhang Jijing stepped up as the company’s managing director. By the end of 2009, CP had appointed a new financial controller, treasurer and several new executives. In addition, CP committed itself to appointing more independent board directors in the long run. Frances Yung, the Director of Group Finance, was not forced to leave the company but was instead demoted and took a salary cut. Internal control improvements CP underwent a major restructuring of its financial control teams via the recruitment of seasoned professionals. They took on roles in identifying, reporting and managing the Group’s treasury activities and financial 13 risks . Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was engaged to review CP’s financial risk management and companylevel corporate controls. Following recommendations from PwC, the Group Internal Audit expanded its scope of riskbased internal audit services provided to the Audit Committee. Additionally, CP appointed a consulting firm to conduct 14 a thorough study and assessment of CP’s finance function . 94CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal CP also updated its terms of reference (TOR) of the audit committee. The updated TOR expanded the committee’s oversight function to include the duty to discuss with management the company’s internal control systems and the responsibility to ensure that management has taken the internal control measures into consideration when implementing policies and programmes. These efforts aimed at improving internal control and corporate governance seemed to have done well in restoring investor confidence, as seen from the 19 per cent increase in share price a day after the management reshuffle was announced. Despite suffering losses 15 amounting to HK10billion and incurring a debt of HK9.38billion from its unauthorised currency trading bets, CP continued to show positive results in 2009. These are attributable to profits from its steel business, property projects in mainland China and the progress of its iron ore mine in Australia. Discussion Questions 1. How has the failure to separate ownership, the board and management impaired the corporate governance of the company 2. Discuss how the compensation system may have impacted the risk appetite and corporate governance of the company. 3. Which do you think played the biggest role in CP’s scandal — weak board oversight, failed internal control, or a flawed compensation system 4. Other than those already taken by the company, how else can they improve corporate governance and internal control 95CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal Endnotes: 1 CITIC Pacific. “Profit Warning”, 20 October 2008, http://www.citicpacific. com/upload/en/200810202e.pdf 2 Jeremiah Marquez. “Citic Pacific hit by wrongway currency bets”. October 2008. http://news.theage.com.au/technology/citicpacifichitbywrongway currencybets2008102658tv.html 3 Leanne Wang. “Exotic derivatives cost CITIC Pacific dearly”. October 2008. http://www.chinastakes.com/2008/10/exoticderivativescostciticpacific dearly.html 4 Ng, Katherine. “Heads roll as 15.5b losses loom.” 21 October 2008. The Standard. 15 December 2011. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/newsdetail. aspppcat=30artid=73153sid=21085671contype=3 5 Low, Chee Keong.. “Silence is Golden – The Case of CITIC Pacific in Hong Kong”. Social Science Research Network. 14 Apr 2002 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfmabstractid=1381990 6 CITIC Pacific. “Chapter 13. Equity Securities.” June 2011. http://www.hkex. com.hk/eng/rulesreg/listrules/mbrules/documents/chapter13.pdf 7 CITIC Pacific. CITIC Pacific Annual Report 2007 . 8 CITIC Group owned 29 of CP through CITIC HK. Chairman Yung had 19 of shares while the other company executives owned a total of 3. The remaining 49 was held by private investors. 9 “Tang, Theresa. Citic Pacific Slumps 55 on 2 Billion Currency Loss.” 21 Oct 2008. http://english.caijing.com.cn/20081031/110025046.html, accessed on 14 April 2010. 10 CITIC Pacific. “Profit Warning”. 20 Oct 2008, http://www.citicpacific.com/upload/en/200810202e.pdf 11 Wan, Hanny. “Hong Kong Proposes Fines for Poor Company Disclosure”. Business Week. 29 March, 2010. 12 CITIC Pacific. “Discloseable and Connected Transaction” 16 September, 2008. http://www.citicpacific.com/upload/en/200809121e.pdf 96CITIC Pacific: Foreign Exchange Scandal 13 Chang, Zhenming. “Chairman’s letter to shareholders”. August 2009. http://www.citicpacific.com/upload/en/200908261e.pdf, accessed on 14 April 2010. 14 Ibid. 15 Reuters. “CITIC Pac shares soar as reshuffle calms investors”. 9 April, 2009. 97Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal Case Overview After a 97 per cent fall in its share price over eight years, the management of PCCW Limited proposed to privatise the company by buying out the shares held by minority shareholders. In doing so, the company management, led by Richard Li Tzarkai, allotted shares to insurance agents on condition that they would vote in favour of the resolution, thus going against the spirit of the prevailing corporate governance rules in Hong Kong. After a protracted legal battle, the courts disallowed the controversial vote. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as corporate governance in a managementcontrolled company, the roles and effectiveness of different corporate governance mechanisms, the protection of minority shareholders’ interests in a privatisation situation, and business ethics. PCCW: A Chequered Past Founded by Richard Li Tzarkai, the son of Hong Kong tycoon Li Kashing, PCCW Limited (PCCW) is the holding company of HKT Group Holdings Limited (HKT), which operates primarily in the telecom, broadband and multimedia industries. It also has interests in the broadband sector in the United Kingdom and a property development company in Hong Kong. This is an abridged version of a case initially prepared by Keh Guat Teing Jasmine and Lee Yi Wen under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Sreevardhan Agarwal under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 98Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal In 1999, PCCW acquired highlyprized waterfront real estate from the government without a public auction. This was highly criticised by the 1 media and other property developers. In 2000, the company acquired Hong Kong Telecom (HKT) for US41 billion, marking the largest merger in Asia at the time. However, due to debt incurred during the process, intense competition in the local telecom sector and the challenge of an international joint venture with the Australian telecommunications company Telstra Corporation, the share price plunged 97 per cent from a peak adjusted price of 131.75 between 2000 and 2008. PCCW was 2 removed from Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index in June 2008 . Richard Li attempted to sell his stake in the company in 2006. The Chinese Government thwarted this attempt by blocking the sale through 3 its control of China Netcom, which owned a 20 per cent stake in PCCW . In 2008, PCCW’s businesses were hit hard by the global recession. Profit 4 slumped 20 per cent in the first half of the year . However, some key financial indicators, such as EBIDTA and earnings per share remained stable. After declaring a dividend of HK0.133 per share, PCCW ended the year with a stable financial position despite the impact of the crisis. The Board of Directors As at 31 December 2009, the PCCW board comprised a total of 15 directors, including five executive directors, four nonexecutive directors and six independent nonexecutive directors. 40 per cent of the board is made up of independent nonexecutive directors, although the sixth independent nonexecutive director, Edmund Tse Sze Wing, was only appointed in September 2009. This fulfilled the minimum standards specified in both the Hong Kong Listing Rules and Hong Kong Code of Corporate Governance. PCCW requires each independent nonexecutive director to submit an annual written confirmation of his independence from the company. In accordance with the Company’s Articles of Association, at each annual general meeting, one third of directors are subject to retirement by rotation. Each non 99Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal executive director also has a term of three years and the maximum term 5 of office for each nonexecutive director is three years . The Vote Buying Scandal After his attempt to sell his stake in PCCW was thwarted by the Chinese government, Richard Li began a threeyear campaign to privatise the company. Since PCCW is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the privatisation scheme was governed by both the Companies Ordinance (CO) as well as the Code of Takeovers and Mergers (Takeovers Code). Under the headcount rule of the Companies Ordinance, if threefourths of members vote either in person or by proxy in favour of a proposal, it is binding on all members. In other words, at least 75 per cent of the shareholders, regardless of the number of shares each shareholder 6 owns, were required to approve the privatisation proposal . Under a scheme announced on 30 October 2008, Li and China Netcom offered to pay HK15.9 billion to buy out minority shareholders. This would lift Li's stake in PCCW from 27.7 per cent to 66.7 per cent and Netcom's stake from 19.8 per cent to 33.3 per cent. Minority shareholders were offered HK4.50 per share, representing a huge discount from the peak share price of HK131.75 attained before the merger with HKT in 2000. However, in response to the offer, the price of PCCW shares increased from HK2.90 on 14 October 2008 before trading of the counter was suspended to HK3.58 on 5 November 2008 when trading resumed. At the shareholders' meeting to approve the proposal, management was accused of vote manipulation and rigging. Yet, the proposal was 7 eventually approved with 80 per cent support . On receiving a complaint from the wellknown HK governance activist David Webb, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) investigated allegations of vote buying. Investigations revealed that 1,000 share board lots were distributed to insurance agents of Fortis Insurance Company (Asia), previously owned by PCCW. The shares were given in return for the assurance that the agents would sign proxy forms to vote in favour of the proposal. This scheme was allegedly conceived by Francis Yuen, 100Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal part of Richard Li’s buyout group, and instructions were given to Inneo Lam, Regional Director at Fortis, to distribute the shares to 500 Fortis agents. Without these insurance agents, the buyout plan would only gain 8 marginal support, with 903 approving and 854 opposing . Such a slim majority would not have met the headcount rule’s requirement of 75 per cent support by number of shareholders. Initially, the Court of First Instance approved the privatisation plan. Following the ruling, the Court of Appeals granted leave to the SFC to 9 appeal against the verdict . The SFC applied to the court to veto the results of the shareholder meeting. On 11 May 2009, the Court of Appeal ruled that there was a clear manipulation of the vote and the extent of the manipulation raised doubts on the fairness of the voting results. In addition, the court said that vote manipulation is an act of dishonesty and the court could not sanction such an act. The judge made the following observation, referring to elderly minority investors who had invested in PCCW: “These people have put their life savings into it, and they’ve got nothing left. Look what happened it the stock price of PCCW has gone down from HK120 to nothing It’s pathetic … there’s 10 a difference between a takeover and a squeezing out .” Questions of Shareholders' Rights, Ethics and Legality The scandal raised questions about how privatisation proposals should be determined and whether the splitting of votes violates the letter or spirit of rules designed to protect minority shareholders. Many institutional investors, having invested for the short term, accepted the proposal due to the premium of the offer price over the prevailing market price. However, the Court of Appeals highlighted the plight of retail investors, saying, “These small shareholders are not realising their investment but in fact are being left behind ... I can’t see it's going to do 11 the company any good.” 101Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal Another important issue was that the buyout plan was drafted in a manner that would greatly benefit Richard Li and China Netcom. According to the proposal, after PCCW was privatised, Richard Li and China Netcom would be awarded a special dividend that would cover the entire cost of taking the company private, plus provide an extra HK2.9 billion once 12 the process was completed. Since management did not justify the decision to award the special dividend to the parties making the buyout offer, one of the judges hearing the case commented that the proposal 13 was “outrageous” . These issues exacerbated the concerns of minority shareholders, many of whom were elderly investors who had to leave the meeting before casting their vote since it dragged on for more than 14 7 hours . The evidence of vote rigging did not technically violate Hong Kong’s market regulations because there were no laws against splitting shareholder votes. However, since it went against the spirit of the headcount rule, Richard Li and China Netcom had to withdraw the proposal based on the Court of Appeal judgement. 102Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal Discussion Questions 1. What is the “agency” problem typically confronting companies like PCCW with a controlling shareholder 2. To what extent is there a separation between shareholders, the board and management in PCCW How might this have contributed to the near success of the privatisation plans 3. Consider how PCCW’s failed privatisation illustrates the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of key corporate governance mechanisms. 4. In major corporate transactions, such as the PCCW privatisation, different shareholders may have different interests and preferences. How should the board and regulators balance the interests of these different shareholders 5. The privatisation of PCCW requires the approval of 75 per cent of shareholders (or their proxies) present at the shareholders' meeting. In your view, is this fair to small shareholders How about large shareholders 6. Did the board and management of PCCW act ethically in the privatisation attempt 103Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal Endnotes: 1 “Cyberport Critics Get Stake Hint.” 21 March 1999. The Standard. 6 December 2011. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/newsdetail.asppp cat=artid=25641sid=contype=1dstr=19990321searyear=1999 2 Bloomberg. “PCCW Investors Approve Li’s 2.05 Billion Buyout bid (Update 2)”. 4 February 2009. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/newspid=newsarc hivesid=apYGAEz9.AzQ, accessed on 6 December 2011 3 “Hong Kong Exchange Rejects Carving Up of PCCW.” 27 April 2011. Wall Street Journal. 6 December 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 4052748703778104576287800475886730.html 4 Bloomberg. “PCCW Investors Approve Li’s 2.05 Billion Buyout bid (Update 2)”. 4 February 2009. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/newspid=newsarc hivesid=apYGAEz9.AzQ, accessed on 6 December 2011 5 PCCW. “Annual Report, 2009.” 2009. http://www.pccw.com/staticfiles/ PCCWCorpsite/About20PCCW/Investor20Relations/Financial20 Results/2009/eAnnual20Report.pdf, accessed on December 2011 6 Loh, Timothy. “The PCCW Privatization: A Guide to the Applicable Law for Schemes of Arrangement.” 2 March 2009. http://www.timothyloh.com/ Publications/090302PCCWPrivatization.html, accessed on 6 December 2011 7 Wang, Tina. “PCCW Saga Goes Into Extra Innings.” 2 May 2009. Forbes. 10 April 2010. http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/05/pccwrichardlimarkets equity0205china1.html 8 Chung, Olivia. “Shocked, Shocked” 28 April 2009. Asia Times Online. December 2011. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/ChinaBusiness/ KD28Cb01.html 9 Securities and Futures Commission. “Court of Appeal stays decision on PCCW privatization.” http://www.sfc.hk/sfcPressRelease/EN/sfcOpenDoc Servletdocno=09PR41, accessed on December 2011 10 Scent, Benjamin, “It’s Outrageous” 21 April 2009. The Standard. 6 December 2011. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/newsdetail.asppp cat=30artid=81081sid=23531732contype=1dstr=20090421sear year=2009 104Dialling for Votes: The PCCW Privatisation Scandal 11 Scent, Benjamin. “It’s outrageous”. 21 April 2009. The Standard. 26 January 2012. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/newsdetail.aspsid=23531732art id=81081contype=1ppcat=30 12 Wang, Tina. “PCCW Saga Goes Into Extra Innings.” 2 May 2009. Forbes. 10 April 2010. http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/05/pccwrichardlimarkets equity0205china1.html 13 Chung, Olivia. “Shocked, Shocked” 28 April 2009. Asia Times Online. December 2011. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/ChinaBusiness/ KD28Cb01.html 14 Wang, Tina. “Li Pulls The Plug on 2 Billion PCCW Bid.” 23 April 2009. Forbes. 6 December 2011. http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/23/lipccw courtmarketsequityhongkong.html 105GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison Case Overview Founder and former chairman of GOME Electrical Appliance Holdings (GOME), Huang Guangyu, was sentenced to 14 years’ jail on 18 May 1 2010 . This was a huge fall from grace for one of the richest men in China. After Huang’s arrest in late 2008, the then CEO Chen Xiao replaced him as Chairman of GOME’s board in January 2009. Under Chen, GOME began deviating from the company’s original strategies, whilst external investors such as Bain Capital LLC were invited to invest in the firm. From Huang’s perspective, these developments threatened his control of 2 the company . Huang then waged a boardroom fight from prison. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as corporate governance in foundermanaged companies; business practices and corporate governance in Chinese companies; bribery, insider trading and market manipulation; and board composition and control. The Growth of GOME Founded in 1987, the success of GOME could be largely attributed to its ‘best price’ strategy. According to Huang Guangyu, the founder and former Chairman, “by offering lower prices, customers are happy and support 3 you, (and) tell other people about you. ” Under Huang’s management, GOME gradually became known as the electrical appliance store that This is an abridged version of a case initially prepared by Teo Chun Peng Justin, Khong Xiang Zheng, Ker Wanling, Chiu Weiqi, and Abdul Hakeem under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Amanda Seah Jia Hui under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 106GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison sold its goods at the lowest price. Huang was then known as the “Price 4 5 Butcher” and the “Sam Walton of China” . With the rapid growth of the company, Huang opted to list the GOME Group on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) in 2004. Approximately 90 of GOME’s highest grossing stores were included in the listed GOME Group, while the remaining unlisted stores were under Huang’s personal 6 control . The unlisted stores were managed by the company via a management memorandum agreement. When this agreement expired, control would return to Huang. GOME experienced tremendous growth, surging to a market leadership position in China’s electronics retail 7 industry . The ultimate measure of Huang’s success came in 2005 when 8 he was ranked the richest man in China by Time Magazine , a title he held until his arrest in November 2008. At that time, Huang’s estimated 9 personal wealth stood at US6.3 billion . The Arrest of Huang In 2008, under the Chinese government’s enforcement actions 10 against corporate corruption , Huang was arrested and placed “under 11 investigation” for suspicion of bribery, insider trading and money laundering, among other breaches. Trading of GOME’s shares was suspended on the HKSE on 24 November 2008 following the news of 12 Huang’s 18month detention . GOME’s share price plummeted to a low 13 of HK1.12 on 25 November 2008 . The Bribery Scandal The investigations revealed that Huang had engaged in both direct 14 bribery and indirect instigation of bribery of five government officials , involving a total of RMB 4.56 million worth of cash and properties in 15 return for special consideration and business favours . In June 2006, the Beijing Municipal State Taxation Bureau had ordered six provincial taxation bureaus to investigate GOME over tax evasion 16 issues . Two of the key members of the assigned team, Liang Conglin 107GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison and Ling Wei, were approached by Jing Hongli, a senior officer with the Economic Crime Investigation Department of the Beijing police, with a 17 request for them to be “lenient” in reporting their findings on GOME . The pair subsequently had dinner with Huang and his key business partner, 18 Xu Zhongmin, the former chairman of Beijing Centergate . Following Liang and Ling’s official inquiry, GOME’s Beijing branch was fined a very lenient sum of less than RMB 2 million for injecting capital into a shell company for tax evasion purposes. Liang and Ling each received 19 bank cards with RMB 500,000 worth of credit . Xu Zhongmin was also found to have been instigated by Huang to bribe police and tax officials. In addition, senior tax officials Jing Hongli and Sun Haiting received RMB 20 1.5 million and RMB 1 million respectively from Xu in connection with GOME’s and Huang’s misdeeds. Insider Trading and Other Offences Huang was also found to have engaged in insider trading from April to September 2007, involving shares in Shenzhenlisted Beijing Centergate Technologies Holding Company Limited (‘Centergate’), in which he was 21 a major shareholder . Huang instructed others, including Beijing Eagle 22 23 Investment Co Ltd , a company controlled by Huang himself , to buy substantial quantities of Centergate’s shares amounting to RMB 1.415 24 billion . This illegal trading was conducted prior to public disclosures concerning the restructuring plans for Centergate. Centergate’s share price soared after these plans were officially announced. Using similar strategies involving restructuring and swaps, Huang also engaged in 25 insider trading in the shares of Sanlian Commercial . By acting on the insider knowledge he had in these two cases, Huang made illegal profits 26 of more than RMB 309 million . In addition to insider trading, Huang was also found guilty of money laundering. From September to December 2007, Huang channelled RMB 800 million to Hong Kong, where the money was converted to HK822 27 million through illegal channels such as ‘underground banks’ . 108GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison Huang was found guilty by the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court with respect to charges of bribery and insider trading and sentenced 28 to 14 years in prison , fined RMB 600 million and had RMB 200 million 29 of his assets frozen . Share Repurchase Scandal Besides the criminal offences committed in China, Huang also engaged 30 in unlawful activities outside Mainland China . Huang had organised a large share repurchase with his wife, Du Juan, to sell their shares in GOME back to the company, so as to repay Huang’s personal loan of HK2.4 billion. On 28 January 2008, Huang transferred 50 million GOME shares to his wife’s wholly owned company. At the same time, he and Shine Group Ltd, which was whollyowned by Huang, transferred around 31 32 900,000 and 136 million shares of GOME respectively to other “family members”. As Huang’s interest in GOME shares decreased by the same amount, this suggested that these “family members” did not, in fact, 33 include his wife and children . During the period between 22 January 2008 and 5 February 2008, GOME initiated a share buyback from the market. The company bought back 129.8 million of its shares at an average price of HK17.23, at 34 an approximate cost of HK2.2 billion to the company. This buyback scheme caught the attention of Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), even though Huang himself did not directly sell any of his personal shares to the company. The SFC regarded this share buyback as having a negative impact on GOME’s financial position and 35 not in the best interests of the company and its shareholders . It had resulted in an artificial upward manipulation of GOME’s share price, allowing Huang to dispose of his shares at higher prices through indirect means. Indeed, after the last day of buybacks, GOME’s share price plummeted by 74.6 per cent from HK4.405 to HK1.12, resulting in a 36 loss of about HK1.6 billion dollars to shareholders . On 7 August 2009, the SFC applied to the court under Section 213 of the Securities and Futures Ordinance to freeze movement of Huang’s stake 37 in GOME, valued at around HK1.655 billion . In response to this news, 109GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison GOME’s share price fell by 7.8 per cent on 7 August 2009 from HK2.57 38 to HK2.37 . It was a costly ruling for the noncontrolling shareholders, despite the ruling’s intention to protect minority interests. The Boardroom Shuffle Following Huang’s resignation due to his “inability to perform his duties as 39 a director” on 16 January 2009 , Huang’s successor Chen Xiao started to steer GOME in a different direction, against the wishes of Huang. In 2009, Chen implemented a strategy to transform GOME, through giving priority to network rationalisation and individual store profitability. He built stronger relationships with suppliers to reap economies of scale and also paid more attention to investors. Chen’s focus was on cutting down expenses and making GOME a much leaner and more efficient company. Hence, instead of choosing to expand GOME’s retail outlets as Huang would have done, Chen decided to close down 189 stores 40 which were deemed to be insufficiently profitable . Huang’s second point of contention, also the more crucial one, was with regard to Chen’s intention to “broaden (GOME’s) shareholder base and 41 shore up its finances” by scouting for private equity investors to boost GOME’s declining financial performance and to solve its debt issues. Chen’s intention was to attract investments by reputable investors with an interest in management of the company in order to convince the HK regulators of GOME’s recovery and restore investor confidence. Chen therefore invited investments from institutional investors, with Kohlberg 42 Kravis Roberts and Bain Capital coming forward as interested parties . On 22 June 2009, an agreement with Bain Capital was struck, despite 43 vehement opposition from Huang . As Huang owned just over a third of the shares, he was unable to swing the board resolution which was in favour of Chen’s proposal. Bain was hence able to invest up to 44 US418 million in GOME, acquiring up to a 23 per cent stake , while also subscribing to 12 per cent of GOME’s convertible bonds at a huge 45 discount . As expected, market opinions were bullish following this investment. “The worst is over,” declared Merrill Lynch analysts Chen Luo 110GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 46 and Denise Chai . Following the announcement of Bain’s investment, GOME shares soared as much as 107 per cent to a peak of HK2.32 on 47 23 June 2009 . The investment gave Bain a foothold in the Chinese equity market that was already paying off richly, with the surge in GOME’s share price. Bain also had the option to convert its debt instruments into equity, or to continue holding the debt for a 5 percent coupon that “guaranteed it 48 a return of at least 1.5 times its outlay ”. In addition, Bain was given the 49 right to nominate three directors to GOME’s board , providing it a good buffer against any action by the majority shareholder which may harm Bain’s interests. Huang appeared to be losing control of the company he had founded, with Bain now the second largest shareholder in GOME, after Huang. However, there was not yet any direct confrontation between both parties. Jailed, But Still in the Game 50 The peace was broken on 11 May 2010 following Huang’s sentencing. Through his representatives, Huang acted to veto a move by Bain to 51 nominate its three allotted directorships . This ultimately proved to be a futile attempt, as Bain’s rights to appoint its directors were guaranteed through the contractual agreement made in June 2009. 52 On 5 August 2010 , the GOME board filed a lawsuit against Huang for breaches of fiduciary duties as a director and damages for the illegal 53 share repurchase . In response, the convicted Huang launched an attempt to oust Chen using his large shareholding (held by Shinning 54 Crown Holdings Inc) . Yet again, Huang’s attempts came to nought, as shareholders voted against this resolution. Huang did, however, succeed in preventing his shareholding from being further diluted, by voting against a mandate to issue new shares “without first offering them to 55 current shareholders” . 111GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison With Huang and a Bainbacked Chen cancelling each other out in the boardroom, the battle for control soon evolved into a battle for a majority control. Industry insiders saw the potential for a proxy fight, as Bain was gradually accumulating support from GOME’s institutional investors who 56 jointly held almost 45 percent of GOME’s shares . Bain further added to its voting power by exercising its convertible debt options, converting the 57 bonds to an additional 9.98 percent stake. However, Huang considered himself to still have a few bargaining chips on hand. Firstly, he had maintained personal ownership over 300 58 GOME stores that were not listed in 2004 . These stores were only run by the listed entity via a management contract that was expiring soon, and Huang could use the uncertainty surrounding its renewal to his advantage. Secondly, Huang continued to have full ownership over the GOME trademark. Without his approval, GOME would be forced to rebuild its brand from scratch. A few options were open to Huang. He could simply purchase an outright 59 majority of shares, adding to his existing 32.4 per cent ownership which he shared with his wife. However, this action would prove to be costly especially when GOME’s share price peaked after the resumption of 60 trading on 23 June 2009 . Huang would have to sell some of his unlisted 61 assets to finance such a move . The last option was a cooperative truce. The End of the Power Struggle On 11 November 2010, GOME announced its agreement in allowing 62 two of Huang’s representatives onto the board . A memorandum of understanding with Huangcontrolled Shinning Crown was signed and GOME’s board was enlarged from 11 to 13 directors. Huang’s sister, Huang Yanhong, was appointed as a nonexecutive director, while Huang’s associate, Zou Xiaochun, was appointed an executive director on the board. It seemed that the concession made would end the power struggle. This agreement would help remove uncertainty about the future of GOME and allow less disruption by avoiding a vicious boardroom fight. 112GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison Huang’s initial fruitless attempt to oust Chen saw a sudden turn of events 63 when Chairman Chen tendered his resignation on 9 March 2011 . The founder of Beijing Dazhong Electrical Appliances Co., Zhang Dazhong, 64 succeeded Chen as Chairman, effective on 10 March 2011 . For Huang, Chen’s departure meant a removal of a bone of contention and could 65 probably mean a return to GOME’s original direction . Under Zhang, a fiveyear plan for GOME was developed to expand the company’s presence to tiertwo and tierthree cities in China, with 60 per 66 cent of new shop openings in those cities . In a recent announcement, GOME appears poised to embrace a series of internal reforms, which include a new share option plan. It appears that these plans would see a shift from the “Chenplan” to the “Huangplan”, marking a personal 67 victory for Huang against Chen . Bain Capital, with a 10 percent stake in GOME, also announced its longterm commitment in the Beijingbased 68 retailer . Discussion Questions 1. For a familycontrolled company seeking capital, the pros of a public listing would likely outweigh the cons. Do you agree with this statement 2. Under the OECD Principles of corporate governance, the board of directors should be able to exercise objective judgement independently, especially from management. This outlines the importance of having a clear separation between board and management. To what extent can Huang’s actions in relation to GOME be attributed to the lack of such a separation 3. “This fight has no winners … GOME is undervalued and its share 69 price will reflect how quickly they remove uncertainties,” remarked BNP Paribas analyst Charlie Chen in response to GOME’s boardroom battle. How were minority shareholders hurt in the entire GOME saga Would any of GOME’s existing shareholders be considered “winners” in this leadership struggle 113GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 4. Huang vehemently opposed Bain’s investment in GOME in June 2009, a stark contrast to his receptiveness to institutional investors a few years ago. Taking into account the roles played by private equity investors and institutional investors in a company, explain possible reasons for Huang’s strong opposition to Bain’s investment. Were Huang’s motivations in the best interests of the company 5. Identify the regulatory parties involved in the GOME scandal. Do you think these regulators played effective roles in monitoring and enforcement 6. At the end of the case, several options were open to Huang. In your opinion, which of these options would be in the best interests of GOME’s shareholders 7. What are the risks for minority shareholders investing in a company like GOME Given the recent developments, would you be prepared to invest in GOME 114GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison Endnotes: 1 “Crime, punishment”. 19 May 2010. China Daily. 29 December 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/201005/19/content9866032.htm 2 Chang, Bao. “Jailed tycoon loses battle for Gome”. 29 September 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ bizchina/201009/29/content11362716.htm 3 Du, Lijun. “Huang Guangyu”, 24 May 2010. China Radio International. 5 April 2011. http://big5.cri.cn/gate/big5/english.cri.cn/4406/2010/05/24/ 1942s571665.htm 4 “Chinese tycoon Huang Guangyu sentenced to 14 years in prison”, 19 May 2010. The China Post. 11 December 2011. http://www.chinapost. com.tw/china/nationalnews/2010/05/19/257053/Chinesetycoon.htm 5 “Going, Gome, gone” 27 Novmber 2008. The Economist. 11 December 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/12700920 6 Lee, Don. “You’ve got to be rich silently”, 1 May 2006. The Standard. 5 April 2011. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/newsprint.aspart id=17672sid=7744630 7 Tschang, ChiChu. “Gome Is Tops in China”, 10 September 2008. Bloomberg Businessweek. 5 April 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/ globalbiz/content/sep2008/gb20080910374448.htm 8 Fang, Yunyu. “Investors sue former Gome chairman Huang for insider trading”, 6 September 2011. Global Times. http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/674142/Investorssueformer GomechairmanHuangforinsidertrading.aspx 9 “Chinese tycoon Huang Guangyu sentenced to 14 years in prison”, 19 May 2010. The China Post. 15 December 2011. http://www.chinapost. com.tw/china/nationalnews/2010/05/19/257053/Chinesetycoon.htm 10 “CPC to tighten crackdown on corruption”,17 January 2008. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/200801/17/ content6399769.htm 11 “China’s richest man ‘under investigation”, 24 November 2008. CNN. 5 April 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/11/24/china.probe/ index.html 115GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 12 Tsim, Jimmy. “Trading in GOME shares suspended – HK bourse”, 23 November 2008. Reuters. 5 April 2011. http://www.reuters.com/ article/2008/11/24/gomesuspensionidUSHKU00111920081124 13 “0493.HK Historical Prices” Yahoo Finance. http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ hps=0493.HK+Historical+Prices, accessed on 23 February 2012. 14 “Chinese tycoon Huang Guangyu jailed for bribery”, 18 May 2010. BBC. 5 April 2011. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asiapacific/8688623.stm 15 “Chinese tycoon Huang gets 14 years in prison”, 19 May 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/201005/19/ content9866895.htm 16 “Tax officials jailed for taking payoffs from Gome, others”, 31 May 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/201005/31/ content9909407.htm 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid 19 Ibid 20 “Chinese tycoon Huang gets 14 years in prison”, 19 May 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/201005/19/content9866 895.htm 21 Chung, Olivia. “Gome breathes easier as Huang jailed”, 19 May 2010. Asia Times. 29 December 2011. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China Business/LE19Cb01.html 22 China.org.cn. “The ‘seven deadly sins’ of Huang Guangyu”, 3 December 2008. http://english.china.com/zhcn/business/ news/11021613/20081203/15218177.html, accessed on 5 April 2011. 23 Caijing.com.cn. “Dead End for a Tycoon’s Creative Financing”, ND. http://english.caijing.com.cn/20081211/110037416.html, accessed on 5 April 2011. 24 “Chinese tycoon Huang Guangyu sentenced to 14 years in prison” 19 May 2010. The China Post. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinapost.com.tw/china/nationalnews/2010/05/19/257053/ Chinesetycoon.htm 116GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 25 “Suspended Gome Chairman Behind Insider Trading Plot” 31 December 2008. Pacific Epoch. 5 April 2011. http://pacificepoch.com/chinainvestmentresearch/articles/report suspendedgomechairmanbehindinsidertradingplot/ 26 “Chinese home appliance tycoon sentenced to 14 years in prison”, 18 May 2010. Xinhua News Agency. 5 April 2011. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/201005/18/c13300615.htm 27 Chung, Olivia. “Gome breathes easier as Huang jailed”, 19 May 2010. Asia Times. 29 December 2011. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/ChinaBusiness/LE19Cb01.html 28 “Chinese home appliance tycoon sentenced to 14 years in prison”, 18 May 2010. Xinhua News Agency. 5 April 2011. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/201005/18/c13300615.htm 29 Chung, Olivia. “Gome breathes easier as Huang jailed”, 19 May 2010. Asia Times. 29 December 2011. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/ChinaBusiness/LE19Cb01.html 30 “China Appliance Chain Gome Sues Jailed Founder”, 6 August 2010. China Digital Times. 11 December 2011. http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2010/08/chinaappliancechaingomesues jailedfounder/ 31 900,087 shares. From: Webbsite.com. “Take the GM out of GOME”, 7 September 2010. http://www.webbsite.com/articles/gomemandate.asp, accessed on 5 April 2011. 32 136,037,394 shares. From: Webbsite.com. “Take the GM out of GOME”, 7 September 2010. http://www.webbsite.com/articles/gomemandate.asp, accessed on 5 April 2011. 33 Webbsite.com. “Take the GM out of GOME”, 7 September 2010. http://www.webbsite.com/articles/gomemandate.asp, accessed on 5 April 2011. 34 Ibid. 35 Hong Kong. Securities and Futures Commission. “Court grants injunction to freeze assets of exGOME chairman and wife.” 7 August 2009. http://www. sfc.hk/sfcPressRelease/EN/sfcOpenDocServletdocno=09PR109 117GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 36 Webbsite.com. “Take the GM out of GOME “, 7 September 2010. http://www.webbsite.com/articles/gomemandate.asp, accessed on 5 April 2011. 37 Hong Kong. Securities and Futures Commission. “Court grants injunction to freeze assets of exGOME chairman and wife.” 7 August 2009. http://www.sfc.hk/sfcPressRelease/EN/sfcOpenDocServletdocno=09 PR109 38 Kwok, Donny; Li, Fion. “GOME exchairman in share buyback fraudSFC”, 7 August 2009. Reuters. 5 April 2011. http://www.reuters.com/ article/2009/08/07/gomeexchairmanidUSHKG16152120090807 39 Hong Kong. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited. Resignation of Director, Appointment of Chairman, Reappointment of Executive Director and Appointment of Nomination Committee Member and Remuneration Committee Member. 18 January 2009. http://www.hkexnews.hk/listedco/listconews/ sehk/20090118/LTN20090118003.pdf. Huang is referred to as “Wong Kwong Yu” here, the Cantonese form of his name. 40 “Gome expects little impact from founder’s criminal trial”, 4 August 2010. China Daily. 11 December 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/201004/08/content9699656.htm 41 Chris, Oliver. “Bain to buy convertible bonds in Gome, underwrite shares”, 22 June 2009. Market Watch. 5 April 2011. http://www.marketwatch.com/ story/baincapitaltobuyconvertiblebondsingome 42 “KKR, Bain Capital sizing up stake in China’s GOME”. 23 April 2009. Reuters. 5 April 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/04/23/dealtalk gomeidUSHKG12913020090423 43 “Gome shares surge after Bain Capital investment”, 24 June 2009. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/200906/24/ content8316094.htm 44 Ibid 45 China.org.cn. “Bain Capital invests US412m in Gome.” 8 Jun 2009. http://www.china.org.cn/business/highlights/200906/08/content17909087. htm, accessed on 5 April 2011. 118GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 46 “Gome shares surge after Bain Capital investment”, 24 June 2009. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/200906/ 24/content8316094.htm 47 Rappeport, Alan. “Gome shares soar on Bain investment”, 23 June 2009. The Financial Times. 29 December 2011. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/ s/0/59674ef85f3111de93d100144feabdc0.htmlaxzz1hvyTC8qi 48 Stein, Peter. “Bain Capital Gets Break with GOME Electric Truce”. 13 November 2010, Wall Street Journal Asia. 11 December 2011. http://online. wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704514504575613533502948198.html 49 Diaz Reus. “Has Bain Capital Won Gome”, November 2010. http://www.diazreus.com/newsarticlesbaincapitalwongome.html, accessed on 11 December 2011. 50 Webbsite.com. “Take the GM out of GOME”, 7 September 2010. http://www.webbsite.com/articles/gomemandate.asp, accessed on 5 April 2011. 51 Chang, Bao. “Jailed tycoon loses battle for Gome”, 29 September 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/201009/29/content11362716.htm 52 “Appliance chain Gome sues jailed founder”, 6 August 2010. Beijing Today. 29 December 2011. http://www.beijingtoday.com.cn/blogger/newsblogger/ ahen/appliancechaingomesuesjailedfounder 53 Mao, Debra. “Gome Sues Billionaire Founder Huang Guangyu, Driving Down Stock”, 6 August 2010. Bloomberg. 5 April 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20100805/gomeelectricaltostartlegal proceedingsagainstfounderhuangguangyu.html 54 “Gome sues former chairman Huang Guangyu.” 5 Aug 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/201008/05/ content11105839.html 55 Chang, Bao. “Jailed tycoon loses battle for Gome”, 29 September 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ bizchina/201009/29/content11362716.html 56 Caixin Online. “Gome Founder Forces an Investor Showdown”, 13 August 2010. http://english.caing.com/20100813/100170359.html, accessed on 5 April 2011. 119GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 57 Mao, Debra. “Bain Converts Gome Electrical Bonds to 9.98 Stake, Getting Say at Meeting.” 16 September 2010. Bloomberg. 5 April 2011. http://www. bloomberg.com/news/20100915/bainconvertsgomeelectricalbondsto9 98stakegettingsayatmeeting.html 58 Caixin Online. “Gome Founder Forces an Investor Showdown”, 13 August 2010. http://english.caing.com/20100813/100170359. html, accessed on 5 April 2011. 59 Chang, Bao. “Battlelines drawn in Gome tussle. “ 28 August 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www0.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/201008/28/ content11218244.htm 60 Rappeport, Alan. “Gome shares soar on Bain investment”, 23 June 2009. The Financial Times. 29 December 2011. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/ s/0/59674ef85f3111de93d100144feabdc0.htmlaxzz1hvyTC8qi 61 “Exchief may sell stores to hike stake in Gome”, 14 September 2010. China Daily. 5 April 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/201009/14/content11299033.htm 62 Chiu, Joanne; Lee, Yvonne. “Gome reaches deal with founder.” 11 Nov 2010. Wall Street Journal. 11 December 2011. http://online.wsj. com/article/SB10001424052748703805004575607430580824988.html 63 “Gome returns home as Chairman ousted by family”. 10 March 2011. Want China Times. 11 December 2011.http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news subclasscnt.aspxcid=1302MainCatID=13id=20110310000147 64 “Gome chairman resigns”, 10 March 2011. China Daily. 29 December 2011. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/201103/10/content12147810. htm 65 “Gome returns home as Chairman ousted by family”. 10 March 2011. Want China Times. 11 December 2011.http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news subclasscnt.aspxcid=1302MainCatID=13id=20110310000147 66 Chiu, Joanne; Duncan, Mavin. “Zhang Navigates Major Changes At Gome.” 11 Sept 2011. Wall Street Journal. 11 December 2011. http://online.wsj. com/article/SB10001424053111904836104576558000772672330.html 67 “China’s Gome to adopt new share option plan”, 9 December 2011. Want China Times. 11 December 2011. http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news subclasscnt.aspxid=20111209000011cid=1206 120GOME: A Boardroom Fight from Prison 68 Chiu, Joanne. “Gome Shareholder Bain Says It’s in for Long Term.” 1 Sept 2011. Wall Street Journal. 11 December 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904716604576544172709 246908.html 69 Wong, Amy. “Gome shareholders vote against jailed founder”, 28 September 2010. International Business Times. 18 April 2011. http://www.ibtimes.com/ articles/66512/20100928/gomeshareholdersvoteagainstjailedfounder. htm 121RINO: Reversing into Trouble RINO: Reversing into Trouble Case Overview The stock of RINO International Corporation (RINO) traded at more than US30 during its heyday. However, RINO was not spared in 2010 which saw the uncovering of questionable business practices in many Chinese companies listed in the United States and Canada through reverse mergers. As of 22 July 2011, RINO’s stock had fallen to US0.40. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the method used by Chinese companies to list on stock exchanges in the US using reverse mergers, the risks associated with complex corporate structures that are used to facilitate such listings, and corporate governance and accounting issues in Chinese companies listing in the US through reverse mergers. A R(H)INO’s Route to NASDAQ Reverse mergers are an alternative route to initial public offerings (IPOs) for companies seeking to list on the US markets, and it has become a popular way for many Chinese companies like RINO to seek additional capital because of its more relaxed requirements. In 2006, Zou Dejun began to look for opportunities to list his firm Dalian RINO Environment Engineering Science and Technology Co. Ltd. (Dalian This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Heng Kang Wei Glen, Hong YuanZhang, Liu Zhiyuan, and Tang Xin Yi Wynne under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen and Dr. Vincent Chen YuShen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Elaine Kok Shin Yean under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 122RINO: Reversing into Trouble RINO International Corporation (Nevada) 100 100 Innomind Group Limited Rino Investment (Dalian) Co., Ltd. (“Innomind Group”) (BVI) (“Rino Investment”) (PRC) 100 100 Dalian RINO Heavy Dalian Innomind Environment Industries Co., Ltd. Engineering Co., Ltd. (“Rino Heavy Industries”) (PRC) (“Dalian Innomind”) (PRC) Contractual Arrangements Dalian Rino Environment Engineering Science and Technology Co., Ltd. (“Dalian Rino”) (PRC) 100 100 100 Dalian RINO Environmental Rino Technology Dalian RINO Environmental Engineering Design Co. Corporation Construction and Installation (“Rino Technology”) Ltd. Engineering Project Co. Ltd. (“Dalian Rino Design”) (Nevada) (“Dalian Rino Installation”) (PRC) (PRC) Figure 1: RINO Group Structure Source: 2009 RINO Annual Report RINO) on the US markets to access funding. Through a contact, Zou found a Nevadabased shell company, Jade Mountain Corporation, that was listed on the OvertheCounter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) but which was largely inactive. 123RINO: Reversing into Trouble On 5 October 2007, the reverse merger between Dalian RINO and Jade Mountain Corporation took place through Innomind Group Ltd 1 (Innomind), a single shareholder company . A share exchange transaction of 17,899,643 shares of common stock was issued to Innomind Trust, essentially giving Innomind control as the trust’s beneficiaries were Zou 2 and his wife, Qiu Jianping . When the reverse merger was completed, 3 Jade Mountain changed its name to RINO International Corporation (see Figure 1 for the group structure). RINO’s only source of operating profits is through a contractual arrangement with the Chinaincorporated company Dalian RINO, which dictated that 100 per cent of Dalian RINO’s profits was to be channeled 4 into Innomind’s whollyowned subsidiary. The Chairman of RINO was Qiu, while the CEO was Zou. Zou was also the CEO of Dalian RINO. Innomind’s sole shareholder is a relative of Zou and Qiu. Although trading on the OTCBB did bring in new capital, Zou had set his sights on a listing on NASDAQ. He took steps to ensure that RINO met NASDAQ’s listing requirements. In 2008, Frazer Frost, a USbased audit firm and Rodman Renshaw, an investment bank with experience in helping Chinese companies list on the NASDAQ, were hired. In July 2009, RINO was successfully upgraded from the OTCBB to the mainboard of NASDAQ. In the first six months of its listing on NASDAQ, RINO raised 5 about US1 billion through share issues and stock warrants. The Man Behind The Wheel Zou is wellknown in his home country and was viewed as a promising star in the environmental engineering industry. His background is a classic ragstoriches story, having worked his way up from serving in the navy to a technician in a local machine repair shop, before obtaining a degree in Electronic Automation at Liaoning Broadcast University. He saw great potential in the waste water treatment industry and started his first venture, Dalian Yingkun Energy and Environmental Engineering 6 soon after. In 2003, he founded Dalian RINO and became its CEO. 124RINO: Reversing into Trouble Board Composition RINO’s board comprised three independent directors – Professor Quan Xie, Kennith Johnson and Zhang Weiguo – and two nonindependent 7 directors, Zou and Qiu . The husbandwife pair of Zou and Qiu had a large presence in RINO’s management and board through their shareholdings and positions in RINO’s subsidiaries. The three independent directors lacked industry experience although they were from diverse backgrounds. Professor Quan was an academic in the environmental and life sciences discipline, Johnson was a CPA and had extensive experience in public and corporate auditing, while Zhang was the Chief Operating Officer of the Chinese milk formula company, Synutra, and was responsible for its US operations and strategy. Board Committees The audit, nomination and compensation committees were made up of the same people: Johnson, Zhang and Professor Quan. This fulfilled NASDAQ’s requirements of having at least 3 independent directors on 8 the audit Committee . The directors each chaired a committee. Johnson was the chairman of the audit committee; Zhang chaired the nomination committee and Professor Quan the compensation committee. Director Compensation The independent directors were each paid cash retainers of US2,000 9 per quarter and US500 for each board or committee meeting attended . On top of this, Johnson received 2,000 shares in 2009 for his role as chairman of the audit committee but there were no additional fees or benefits for other directors. The nonindependent directors did not receive director fees or benefits. 125RINO: Reversing into Trouble Although the 2009 annual report indicated that the board of directors met six times during the year, it reported that the fees paid to both Zhang and Professor Quan’s to be only US8,000 – which was only the guaranteed basic cash retainer amount for a year. CFO Turnover RINO had three different chief financial officers (CFO) in three years: Bruce Carlton Richardson served from October 2007 to September 2008, Qiu from October 2008 to April 2010, and Ben Wang from May 2010. 10 Trouble Looms in Muddy Waters On 10 November 2010, Muddy Waters, a shortseller, issued a report which questioned RINO’s actual financial situation. Among the allegations were accounting irregularities in RINO’s 2009 revenues, which differed substantially between its results reported in the US (US193 million) and its results in its Chinese regulatory filings (US11 million). Muddy Waters estimated its actual 2009 revenues to be under US15 million. To make matters worse, none of this income was transferred from Dalian RINO to RINO as agreed. Instead, the capital raised by RINO was diverted to fund Dalian RINO’s China operations. In addition, RINO’s CEO, Zou, publicly confirmed that of its six major flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) 11 contracts, two were nonexistent and the remaining four had “issues” . Suspicions were heightened when RINO did not report any tangible assets as would be consistent with a manufacturing firm. RINO’s tax disclosures to the SEC and RINO’s reported zero tax in China, both of which did not match its reported revenues. Questions About the Auditor’s Role The discovery of these irregularities by a shortseller firm, instead of an audit firm, begs the question as to the competency of RINO’s auditor. First and foremost, Frazer Frost is a relatively small firm and did not 126RINO: Reversing into Trouble have local operations or an office in China. Instead, employees travelled to China from their California headquarters to perform audits, which cast doubts on their capability in performing audits effectively. The audit partner, Susan Woo, did not have significant experience in auditing listed companies in the US, much less overseasbased companies. She had 13 years of accounting experience specialising in international tax and finance. Moreover, checks revealed that almost all of Frazer Frost’s listed clients were Chinabased companies. The Fallout One day after the release of the Muddy Waters’ report, RINO stated that 12 it had begun an internal review and five days later, RINO decided to postpone its Q3 2010 earnings conference call. After the confirmation of fraudulent accounting practices, RINO’s audit committee issued a statement declaring that it will conduct a thorough investigation. After the allegations by Muddy Waters, RINO’s stock collapsed by 60 per cent from US15.52 to US6.07 over six days. On 11 April 2011, SEC 13 suspended RINO from trading . Compared to a year ago, RINO’s stock had fallen almost 80 per cent. Closing the Loophole The discovery of RINO’s accounting fraud, together with scandals involving many other Chinese reverse merger companies, led the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to tighten requirements for listing through reverse mergers. The new rules required companies to: 1. complete at least one year of “seasoning period” trading in either the US overthecounter market or on another USregulated or foreign exchange; 127RINO: Reversing into Trouble 2. maintain a minimum closing stock price of US4 (US3 or US2 in the case of NYSE and Amex, depending on the listing standard) per share for 30 of the 60 days before the date that listing begins; and 3. timely file all required periodic financial reports with the SEC or other regulatory authority, including at least one annual report containing audited financial statements for a full fiscal year commencing after 14 the filing of the above information. CrossBorder Issues The SEC and the China Securities Regulatory Committee (CSRC) had signed a memorandum of understanding to improve crossborder cooperation and collaboration in 1994. However, the SEC does not have any say on the reporting procedures of Chinese companies to China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), which requires all local and foreign companies to submit their business operating reports (including annual financial statements) annually. Before the new rules, NASDAQ did not require foreign companies to submit reports that were lodged in their home countries. This meant that RINO had needed to comply only with the SarbanesOxley Act, NASDAQ listing rules and other applicable corporate laws in US. 128RINO: Reversing into Trouble Discussion Questions 1. What are the key corporate governance issues with RINO 2. What additional corporate governance issues could arise from a Chinese foreign listing through a reverse merger in the US 3. The reverse merger occurred in 2007 but the irregularity was only uncovered in 2010. Why did it take so long to uncover the accounting irregularities Which parties failed in their responsibilities 4. From a corporate governance perspective, what are some of the key red flags that indicated fraud in RINO International 5. Going forward, what are the consequences of such fraud cases for Chinese companies What can such Chinese companies do to attract investors Endnotes: 1 “Jade Mountain Corp.”, 14 December 2011. Bloomberg Business Week. 11 April, 2011. http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/ snapshot.aspprivcapId=37348 2 “RINO International Corporation (RINO) Company Description”, ND. Seeking Alpha. 12 April 2011. http://seekingalpha.com/symbol/RINO/description 3 Dalian RINO Environmental Engineering Science and Technology Co., Ltd. “Jade Mountain Corporation Announces Name Change to RINO International Corporation”, 9 May 2008. Reuters. 9 April 2011. http://www. reuters.com/article/2008/05/09/idUS144192+09May2008+PRN20080509 4 Muddy Waters Research. “Muddy Waters initiating coverage on RINO – Strong Sell”, 10 November 2010. http://www.muddywatersresearch.com/ research/rino/initiatingcoveragerino/, accessed on 10 April 2011 5 RINO International Corporation. 2009 RINO International Corporation Annual Report, p.114. 129RINO: Reversing into Trouble 6 “RINO International Corp – Executive Profile: Dejun Zou”, 14 December 2011. Bloomberg Business Week. 15 December 2011. http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.aspper sonId=38759664ticker=RINO:US 7 RINO International Corporation. 2009 RINO International Corporation Annual Report, p. 8191 8 Nasdaq. “Listing Standard and Fees”, July 2010. http://www.nasdaq.com/about/nasdaqlistingreqfees.pdf, accessed on 20 March 2011 9 RINO International Corporation. 2009 RINO International Corporation Annual Report, p. 90 10 Muddy Waters Research. “Muddy Waters initiating coverage on RINO – Strong Sell”, 10 November 2010. http://www.muddywatersresearch.com/ research/rino/initiatingcoveragerino/, accessed on 10 November 2011 11 US SEC. “RINO International Corporation (Form 8K)”, 17 November 2010. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1394220/000114420410062163/ v2031778k.htm, accessed on 4 April 2011 12 PR Newswire. “RINO Comments on Muddy Waters Allegations”, 11 November 2010. PR Newswire. http://www.prnewswire.com/news releases/rinocommentsonmuddywatersallegations107194818.html, accessed on 12 April 2011 13 SEC. “Investor Bulletin: Reverse Mergers”, June 2011. SEC. http://www.sec.gov/investor/alerts/reversemergers.pdf, accessed on 11 December 2011 14 Rochwarger, Jonathan and Rubinstein, Joel. “United States: SEC Approves More Rigorous Listing Requirements Of The Major U.S. Stock Exchanges For Reverse Merger Companies”, 29 November 2011. Mondaq. 11 December 2011. http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/155562/Merg ers+Acquisitions/SEC+Approves+More+Rigorous+Listing+Requirements+O f+The+Major+US+Stock+Exchanges+For+Reverse+Merger+Companies 130The Satyam Fiasco The Satyam Fiasco “It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten ... I am now prepared to subject myself to the laws of the land and face the consequences thereof.” — Ramalinga Raju, Satyam Founder and Chairman Case Overview In January 2009, Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, the Chairman and Founder of Satyam, resigned after confessing to having orchestrated an accounting fraud since 2001. He admitted to manipulating the firm’s accounts to report profits that were more than 10 times the actual figures and reported a cash balance of US1.5 billion that was nonexistent. This case describes the nature of the fraud, the role of different parties involved and the aftermath of the scandal. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as business practices and the corporate governance environment in India, accounting fraud, board composition, director compensation, and the role of independent directors and auditors. Satyam and Its Founder In 2009, Satyam, translated as ‘Truth’ in Sanskrit, was considered among the pioneers of the information technology (IT) sector in India, with revenues of over US2 billion. It was the only Indian company to be listed on three international stock exchanges and had even received the greatlyadmired Golden Peacock Award for its achievements in corporate This is an abridged version of a case initially prepared by Vania Edrea, Theo Farah Izzah and Chong Stacey Janine Tan under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen on the basis of published sources only. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Sreevardhan Agarwal under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 131The Satyam Fiasco 1 governance. It competed with the largest global technology firms such as Infosys and Wipro. Satyam was founded by Ramalinga Raju, one of the most respected Indian business leaders. He belongs to a family that owned vast tracts of land and land continued to be his passion even after the global success of Satyam. He also maintained a spotless public image. A reporter who covered Satyam said of his impression of Raju, “It’s difficult to find a more softspoken Indian CEO ... he opens up only when you ask him about 2 corporate governance issues.” Due to such an image, he was promoted as the icon of Hyderabad, the IT hub of India, by its Chief Minister at the time. However, Raju’s public image was in sharp contrast to several controversies that had dogged his career. He was investigated for swindling funds from the public offering of Satyam on NYSE and Satyam Infoway on NASDAQ. He was also convicted in a tax evasion case. In addition, in 2008, the World Bank blacklisted Satyam for providing 3 “improper benefits” to its staff. His shares in Satyam were pledged to financial institutions to raise funds to buy land at prices higher than the market price, creating an effect similar to that of rigging prices. Yet, despite these, he received various prestigious awards including the Ernst 4 Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. The Board of Directors Satyam’s board of directors was responsible for overseeing strategy, approving major corporate initiatives and reviewing performance. A Wharton professor, Saikat Chaudhuri, notes that in Indian firms such as Satyam, the board is involved only at the strategic level while it is the 5 founder who runs the show . There were three board committees the Audit, Remuneration and Investors Grievance Committees. Contrary to the prevailing best practices, there was no Nominating Committee. Other than Raju, Satyam had two other executive directors his brother, B. Rama Raju, and Ram Mynampati. 132The Satyam Fiasco Of the six nonexecutive directors on the board, five were considered independent. An independent director, according to rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), is required to be a person who has no material pecuniary relationship or transactions with the company, its promoters, its management or subsidiaries. One of the nonexecutive directors, Krishna Palepu, a professor of accounting and specialist in corporate governance at Harvard, worked as a consultant for Satyam and thus was not considered an independent director. Among the five independent directors, Srinivasan was the longest 6 serving, having been on the board since 1991. He, together with Rao and V.S Raju, sat on both the Audit and Remuneration Committees. In addition, Rao was the Dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB) where Raju was a board member. The ISB had received a generous grant of Rs35 crore (US6.6 million) from Srini Raju, the brotherinlaw of Ramalinga Raju and Chief Technical Officer at Satyam, for research 7 done by its Centre for IT Networked Economy (CITNE). Interestingly, according to the disclosure of directors’ remuneration for 2008, Rao was paid a basic fee called “commission” of Rs100,000 (or about US1,800), while the other nonexecutive directors were paid basic fees ranging from Rs1,133,333 (about US21,200) to Rs1,200,000(about US22,500). The nonexecutive directors also received small meeting fees called “sitting fees”. Krishna Palepu was paid Rs9.1 million (US173,500) and 10,000 shares (equivalent to 5,000 ADR) of which Rs7.9 million (US150,000) was professional fees for consulting services he provided. All other directors received compensation in the range of Rs1.21.3 million (US2250024500) in addition to at least 5,000 shares of share 8 based compensation in the form of restricted stock units. Being highly respected in the industry, Satyam’s directors were in high demand to sit on wellknown listed companies. Vinod K Dham (Dham) was the Vice President and General Manager of Intel and sat on a total of eight boards. The former cabinet secretary to the Government of India and a member of the 12th Finance Commission, T.R. Prasad (Prasad), also sat on eight boards of local listed companies. 133The Satyam Fiasco Business Culture in India With deep roots in the structure of social hierarchy derived from influences of Hinduism, the workplace was characterised by junior employees obeying orders from their seniors. Discussions and decisions were initiated by the senior most executives. For junior employees to say “no” could be perceived as being impolite and offensive to those in authority. From India’s Crown Jewel to Biggest Fraud Ramalinga Raju had been manipulating Satyam’s books since 2001 to report results that would compare favourably with those of Infosys and Wipro. This was to maintain the firm’s corporate image as being among India’s IT pioneers. In addition, higher corporate profits would result in higher share prices, helping Raju obtain more funds to purchase land. Raju had hoped to cover the fictitious assets he showed on Satyam’s books with real cash from Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties, companies owned by his sons, by merging the two firms with Satyam. On 16 December 2008, he convened a board meeting to seek approval for this transaction with a combined value of US1.6 billion. Since he and his brother Rama were interested parties, they were absent from the 9 meeting. The nonexecutive and independent directors present voiced 10 strong concerns against the proposal: “You can’t treat us as a mere rubber stamp and expect us to say “yes” to whatever you decide. What is the use of having directors like us, when you are not going to consult us at all” — Srinivasan “Will this move result in diluting the core competency of the company What are the risks involved” — Rao However, the senior managers of Maytas making the presentation were duly briefed by Raju on how to successfully gain inprinciple approval from the board. 134The Satyam Fiasco After the approval was received, Raju made an announcement on NYSE regarding the company’s plans to merge with Maytas. Investors disapproved strongly, believing that the transaction was intended to benefit the Raju family. The house of cards began to collapse from this point on. Amidst the chaotic situation, Satyam lost public trust, its share price tumbled and the Maytas deal was abandoned. The World Bank soon announced that 11 it had blacklisted Satyam for providing “improper benefits” to its staff. In addition, three of its directors, Srinivasan, Dham and Palepu, resigned from the board after the announcement of the merger, making stern statements which questioned the promoters’ actions: “I (Srinivasan) am left with no option but to resign with immediate effect. I had raised many issues related to procedures and had expressed reservations during the board meeting. I had not cast a dissenting vote against the deal for which I take moral 12 responsibility. ” Interestingly, Palepu dramatically changed his stance regarding the reason for his resignation. Originally he attributed his resignation to not being able to fulfil all his duties at Satyam due to his teaching commitments at Harvard. However, he later said that his resignation was prompted by the revelation that Ramalinga Raju and other promoters had pledged their shares in Satyam to financial institutions, which were later sold due 13 to margin call pressures. With few options remaining, Raju engaged Merrill Lynch to seek strategic options for the future of Satyam. Merrill Lynch found material irregularities in Satyam’s accounts. On realising that his fraud had come to light, Raju resigned from his position and confessed to inflating profits, reporting a US1.5 billion cash balance that was nonexistent, overstating interest income and understating liabilities. 135The Satyam Fiasco Satyam’s Compartmentalised Structure: Key to the Fraud Crucial to the successful commission of the fraud was that Raju had compartmentalised the structure of Satyam such that among its reported 14 51,000 employees , only a handful would really know what was going on within the firm. Each department had its own Finance unit which would report to a central Finance team headed by the CFO, Srinivasa Vadlamani. Each unit was unaware of the performance of other departments. Raju handpicked the top management which consisted of a few professionals and his family members. In addition, they were allotted large quantities of Satyam shares to ensure that they had incentives to take actions that would help boost the stock price. Satyam had a whistleblower policy supervised by the Audit Committee. Under this policy, an employee had written to Krishna Palepu stating that the books of the firm had been manipulated. Although this letter was 15 circulated among the board, no action was taken. Cleaning up the Mess On the day the scandal became public, Satyam’s stock price fell from Rs179.1 (US3.40) to Rs23.85 (US0.45), an 87 per cent fall in value 16 in one day . On 10 January, the Company Law Board decided to bar the existing Satyam board from operating and appointed 10 nominee 17 directors . The swift action was taken due to the significance of both Satyam and the IT sector to India’s economy and image abroad. The regulator for Chartered Accountants in India issued a showcause notice to Satyam’s auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for its complicity in 18 the fraud as it had certified Satyam’s accounts as being true and fair . Ramalinga Raju was arrested and charged with several counts, including forgery, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy. During the trial, it was revealed that although Satyam claimed to have 51,000 employees, the actual number was 40,000. It was alleged that Raju was withdrawing a sum of Rs20 Crore (US4 million) each month to pay these nonexistent 19 employees . 136The Satyam Fiasco After the scandal, the Golden Peacock award for best corporate governance was stripped from Satyam. After a public auction in 2009, Satyam was taken over by Tech Mahindra, the technological arm of the conglomerate Mahindra Mahindra. Regulatory Reforms and Impact on Independent Directors The case raised a multitude of questions on the role of independent directors on the boards of even the highest echelon of Indian companies. Professor Jitendra Singh, a management professor at Wharton, notes that on some Indian boards, there exists an attitude that board members work for those who brought them on to the board. This could have been 20 the problem with the Satyam board itself . In reaction to the scandal, the Indian government introduced the Companies Bill 2009 to address corporate governance, among other issues. The Bill added several criteria to the appointment requirements for an independent director. These include not being an employee of the firm for three preceding years from appointment; an employee of an auditing, legal or consulting firm associated with the company; holding more than 2 per cent of the voting power of the company; or being a member of an organisation receiving more than 25 per cent of its income 21 from the company. Rajesh Chakrabarti, professor at the Indian School of Business, wrote an article in the Economic Times highlighting the shortage of independent directors in Indian boardrooms after the scandal. In the month following the scandal, resignations by independent directors rose to 109 from the average of 30. Over a longer period, resignations increased by 20 per cent. He noted that the prevailing consensus among independent directors was that they were reassessing the risks of a board seat a lifetime of reputation built could be tarnished by the actions of a single 22 unscrupulous promoter like Ramalinga Raju. These changes, he asserts, do not bode well for the future of corporate governance in Indian enterprises. 137The Satyam Fiasco Recent Developments In November 2011, after spending almost 3 years in prison, Ramalinga Raju, Rama Raju and Srinivasa Vadlamani were granted bail. The reason cited by the court was that they had already served a large portion of their possible sentence since the maximum punishment for their offence was 7 years’ imprisonment. In addition, as the investigation of the case was nearing its end, it was felt that they could not influence the investigation in 23 any manner. In January 2012, Satyam Computer Services, now owned by the Tech Mahindra group, filed a lawsuit against its former board of directors, certain former employees and PwC its statutory auditor, for “perpetrating fraud, breach of fiduciary responsibility, obligations and negligence in performance of duties.” This followed a penalty of US17.5 million imposed jointly on Satyam, PwC and its other partners by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in April 2011 for fraudulently 24 overstating the company’s accounts. Discussion Questions 1. Describe India’s environment that investors should consider when investing in companies like Satyam. 2. Discuss the areas of the company culture and structure that could have raised some red flags about Satyam’s situation. 3. Satyam had a whistleblower policy in place and an employee had written to one of the directors claiming that the accounts had been manipulated. What are the challenges of effective implementation of a whistleblower policy in a company such as Satyam How should directors react to whistleblower complaints 4. Analyse the independence of the board and the ability of the board to exercise independent judgment on the corporate affairs of Satyam. Given the credentials of the nonexecutive directors, why would they still have missed the fraud perpetrated in the company over a number of years 138The Satyam Fiasco 5. A number of directors resigned from the company after the aborted Maytas merger and before the fraud became public. Should they have resigned and could they have done more to protect shareholders’ interests 6. Who is responsible for the loss in shareholder value 7. Are the regulatory reforms undertaken after the scandal likely to have a positive effect on corporate governance in India How can the role of independent directors be enhanced without making it too onerous to be an independent director 8. Should the nonexecutive and independent directors be held accountable for the fraud perpetrated in Satyam Endnotes: 1 Satyam, Mahindr. “Satyam Receives Golden Peacock Global Award for Excellence in Corporate Governance.” ND. 13 April, 2009. http://www.mahindrasatyam.com/media/pr6sep08.asp 2 “India’s Enron”. 8 January2009. Rediff Business. 10 April 2009. http://www.rediff.com/money/2009/jan/08satyamindiasenron.htm 3 VCC Circle. “World Bank Names Wipro, Satyam Among Blacklisted Indian IT Firms”. January 13th, 2009. http://www.vccircle.com/500/news/worldbanknameswiprosatyam amongblacklistedindianitfirms, accessed on December 2011. 4 Seth, K. “Satyam’s Raju IS EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007”. 21 November, 2007. 10 April 2009. 5 India Knowledge Wharton. “Scandal at Satyam: Truth, Lies and Corporate Governance”. 9 January 2009. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfmarticleid=4344, accessed on 10 April 2009. 6 Nag, K. “The Double Life of Ramalinga Raju The Story of India’s Biggest Corporate Fraud.” 2009. April 2009. 139The Satyam Fiasco 7 ISB News Events. “Major Endowment sets CITNE on a New Wave of IT Centric Research”. 10 April, 2010. http://www.isb.edu/media/ UsrSiteNewsMgmt.aspxtopicid=381, accessed on April 2011. 8 “Ram Mynampati got more salary than Raju, directors”13 January, 2009. Nseguide. January 2012. http://nseguide.com/pressreleases/ram mynampatigotmoresalarythanrajudirectors/ 9 Sheth,N Range, J. “Satyam Directors Questioned Purchases.” 1618 January, 2009. Wall Street Journal. April 2009. 10 Nag, K. “The Double Life of Ramalinga Raju The Story of India’s Biggest Corporate Fraud.” 2009. April 2009. 11 VCC Circle. “World Bank Names Wipro, Satyam Among Blacklisted Indian IT Firms”. 13 January 2009. http://www.vccircle.com/500/news/world banknameswiprosatyamamongblacklistedindianitfirms, accessed on December 2011. 12 Nag, K. “The Double Life of Ramalinga Raju The Story of India’s Biggest Corporate Fraud.” 2009. April 2009. 13 Livemint.com. “Palepu quit after Satyam disclosure.” 31 December 2008. http://www.livemint.com/2008/12/30235615/PalepuquitafterSatyamdiscl. html, accessed on January 2012. 14 Datamonitor. “Satyam Computer Services Limited Company Profile”. 2009. 10 April 2009. 15 Ibid 16 Moneycontrol.com. ND. accessed on http://www.moneycontrol.com/stock charts/mahindrasatyam/charts/SCS, accessed on December 2011. 17 Domainb.com. “Government nominees to replace Satyam board.” 9 January 2009. http://www.domainb.com/companies/companiess/ SatyamComputers/20090109satyamboard.html, accessed on December 2011 18 Livemint.com.“ICAI to seek explanation from Satyam auditor PWC”. 7 January 2009. http://www.livemint.com/2009/01/07165018/ICAItoseek explanationfrom.html, accessed on December 2011 140The Satyam Fiasco 19 “Satyam Fudged FD’s, has 40,000 employees: Public Proscecutor” 22 January 2009. The Times of India. December 2011. http://timesofindia. indiatimes.com/IndiaBusiness/SatyamfudgedFDshas40000 employeesPublicprosecutor/articleshow/4015830.cms 20 India Knowledge Wharton. “Scandal at Satyam: Truth, Lies and Corporate Governance”. 9 January 2009. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfmarticleid=4344, accessed on 10 April 2009. 21 Lok Sabha, 2009. The Companies Bill. April 2010. http://www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/actsbills/pdf/CompaniesBill200924Aug 2009.pdf 22 Chakrabarti, Rajesh “The Drop in Number of Independent Directors in The boardroom Bodes Ill for Corporate Governance”. Economic Times. 20 August 2011. December 2011. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes. com/20110820/news/299092981independentdirectorssatyamcrisis satyamscandal 23 “Satyam’s Ramalinga Raju, two others get bail.” 5 November 2011. The Economic Times. January 2012. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/20111105/ news/303638251internalchiefauditorbramalingarajuchsrisailam 24 “Satyam sues former board of directors, certain employees, Price Waterhouse.” 9 January 2012. The Economic Times. 9 January 2012. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/20120109/news/3060 76411mahindrasatyamlovelocklewespricewaterhousebangalore 141The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco The Sime Darby Financial Fiasco Case Overview In May 2010, Sime Darby Berhad announced that its earnings may be cut by up to RM964 million due to losses in its Energy Utilities Division, from cost overruns in four projects. Following the announcement, its share price plunged to RM7.47 on 27 May 2010, a 10month low. In this case, we look at some of the events leading to the loss as well as the actions taken by the board of directors in response. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as board composition, the board's role in oversight, and responsibilities of the board versus management. Where It All Began In September 2002, the MalaysiaChina Hydro JV consortium, led by Sime Engineering, was awarded a contract to construct the Bakun 1 Hydroelectric dam . During the course of the project, plans for the construction of an undersea high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable was also initiated for the dam to relay power to Peninsular Malaysia. Although the project was scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2007, delays in impoundment, as well as changes to the plans and disagreements over the cost of the dam, caused a significant setback to 2 the date of completion . This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Goh Ming Jing, Muhammed Ameer S/O Mohd Noor, Muhammad Ali Idaham, and Kesmond Goh Zhi Peng under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen and Dr Vincent Chen YuShen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Cheryl Nio Yi Hui under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 142The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco Towards the end of 2005, the management of Sime Engineering decided to bid for an engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning (EPCIC) contract, commissioned by Qatar Petroleum AS (QP) for its Bulhanine Project. It was the first time that Sime Engineering had attempted to undertake a project of such scale and magnitude. The project required substantial Transportation and Installation (TI) work, which Sime Engineering neither had the expertise nor the resources to 3 handle. Hence, the company invited tenders from TI subcontractors . However, several issues plagued the company during the tender. Only one TI subcontractor offered to carry out the full scope of work for the TI project and the contractor was rejected by QP due to political implications. QP gave Sime Engineering time to source for new subcontractors and issued the letter of acceptance to Sime Engineering for the project in April 2006. The amounts to be received would be paid upon completion and the project was scheduled for completion in August 2008. A month later, Sime Engineering submitted a bid for another EPCIC project, commissioned by Maersk Oil Qatar AS (MOQ) and QP. Similar to the EPCIC works that they had just signed with QP, Sime Engineering had very little knowhow or the resources to deal with the colossal MOQ project. Nonetheless, MOQ awarded the project to Sime Engineering in 4 February 2007, with completion scheduled for October 2009 . With these two projects in the works, Sime Darby’s Energy Utilities (EU) division, which included Sime Engineering after the merger, undertook a strategic decision to become a full service provider for EPCIC projects in the future. The first keystone in the plan was for Sime Marine, a subsidiary of Sime Energy Utilities, to construct or acquire several vessels to allow for TI capabilities within the division. Management proposed building the vessels as that would entail 27.5 per cent lower cost compared to buying the vessels at market price. On the flip side, the time taken to build the vessels would span a number of years while immediate purchase of the vessels would enable Sime Marine to provide 5 Sime Engineering with the TI capabilities required for the MOQ Project . 143The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco The Sime Darby Board The board of directors had 13 members in 2009. Of the group, 12 including the chairman were nonexecutive. The lone executive director was the Group’s CEO. Six of those directors were independent directors. The percentage of independent directors was higher than the onethird required under Bursa Malaysia's Main Board Listing Requirements. The nonexecutive directors included many big names. The independent Chairman, Tun Musa Hitam, had held several ministerial positions, including deputy prime minister of Malaysia, before his appointment. He was also chairman of several other listed companies. The Deputy Chairman, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, was considered a non independent nonexecutive director because he was a nominee of Permodalan Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian government’s investment arm. He was also a chairman and director of several other listed companies. Another highprofile director was Datuk Seri Panglima Sheng Len Tao, who was an independent nonexecutive director. Also known as Andrew Sheng, he is a chartered accountant by training, and had served as Chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong, Deputy Chief Executive at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and held various other positions at the World Bank and Bank Negara Malaysia. Trouble Looms for the Company In April 2008, potential cost overruns exceeding RM150 million on Sime 6 Engineering’s MOQ project was reported in The Edge . Sime Darby 7 Berhad responded by issuing a statement denying the allegations . In August 2008, Sime Darby’s internal auditor issued a report on losses in the Oil and Gas Segment (OG) of the EU division, which was 8 then brought to the attention of the Audit Committee at the board level . The group chief financial officer then, Tong Poh Keow, together with the external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had wanted a higher provision for losses than was reflected in the accounts, but did not pursue the issue as management said the losses could be recovered. 144The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco In addition, the external auditors had supposedly delayed signing off the 9 audited accounts of the division for FY2008 . In May 2010, Sime Darby announced that its second half earnings might 10 take a big hit amounting to RM964 million due to losses in its EU division. The losses were mainly due to cost overruns on projects. Of the RM964 million, RM200 million was due to a reversal of revenue recognised in the 2009 financial statements for the QP project which had already incurred losses exceeding RM500 million, RM159 million was due to the MOQ project which had already recorded a loss of RM367 million in the first half of the fiscal year, RM450 million was due to the Bakun hydroelectric dam project, and RM155 million was due to losses 11 from the construction of some vessels in a third Qatar project . Sime Darby’s shares hit a 10month low at RM7.47 per share ahead of its 12 earnings report on 27 May 2010 . The Board’s Response “No one would criticise or point out mistakes, which proved to be Ahmad Zubir’s downfall. For some top people, their loyalty was to the CEO of the day, not the company.” 13 — Sime Darby Official Faced with the report from the internal auditor, the board queried the EU division on the issue. The management team, led by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid, explained that the company need not make full provisions as the client had agreed to reimburse some of the cost 14 overruns in due time . Since it was normal industry practice in Malaysia to have cost overruns, especially in large contracts, and this method of reimbursement had worked well for other contracts within Malaysia, the board accepted the explanation and did not pursue the matter. In August 2009, after the internal auditor issued a second report that 15 voiced grave concerns about the EU division , a work group was set up to review the operations of the division. Nine months later, a special board meeting was called to review the findings of the work group. 145The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco After the 13hour meeting, the board asked Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid to take a leave of absence. Sime Darby Berhad then called a news conference, two weeks before the scheduled announcement of its second quarter results, to announce the losses and Datuk Seri Ahmad 16 Zubir Murshid’s leave of absence . In the Wake of the Aftermath After the announcement, many ministers and concerned investors petitioned Sime Darby to take more action. Faced with mounting pressure, Sime Darby called in KPMG and Deloitte 17 to conduct forensic audits in June 2010 . The audit investigations were concluded in November 2010. Following the investigations, Sime Darby released a statement on its website stating that the forensic audits 18 revealed breaches of duties and misconduct within the EU division . However, on the advice of the Group’s legal counsel, Sime Darby declined to disclose more information on the matter. In December 2010, the group filed a civil suit against its former CEO and four executives in relation to the cost overruns, seeking damages and 19 relief totalling at least RM340 million over three lossmaking projects . The damages sought included US30.81 million for consultancy fees wrongly paid in the MOQ Project, RM80.51million for consultancy fees wrongly paid in the QP Project and US48 million for losses arising from 20 the failure to deliver the three marine vessels . The four executives in the civil suit were Datuk Mohamad Shukri Baharom (former executive vicepresident of the group's EU division), Abdul Rahim Ismail (former chief financial officer of the group’s EU division), Abdul Kadir Alias (former head of the oil gas business unit of the EU division), and Mohd Zaki bin Othman (former senior general manager of Sime Darby 21 Engineering) . 146The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco A Twisted Tale “The decisionmaking process went through many levels of detailed discussion and approval which culminated in the 22 approval by the main board of Sime Group,” — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid In response to the civil suit filed by Sime Darby, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid served third party notices to 22 other directors on the grounds that they had breached their duty as directors to exercise due skill, care and diligence and that the other directors should be held responsible as 23 they were the highest and ultimate decision making authority . Into a New Beginning “All announcements made by the group are being implemented, particularly in the way Sime Darby is reorganised. Each one of 24 the divisions will have an independent board but not listed.” — Datuk Mohd Bakke Salleh Following the termination of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid, Datuk Mohd Bakke Salleh was appointed as the President and Group Chief Executive of Sime Darby. He was quick to implement changes. Under his leadership, Sime Darby emerged with a reorganised new look. The divisions of Sime Darby were separated and a chairman was appointed for each of the respective divisions. An amicable settlement with Maersk Oil Qatar AS regarding a dispute over claims and payment issues related to a 2007 contract was also reached. In addition, a pending lawsuit with Maersk Oil Qatar was settled with a payment of 25 RM100 million . The board of directors at Sime Darby also underwent many changes, with only four out of the previous 13 members keeping their positions, namely the Chairman Tun Musa Hitam, Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, Tan Sri Dato Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin, and Dato Henry Sackville Barlow. New names on the Sime Darby Board included Tan Sri Dato’ Sri 147The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco Hamad Kama Piah bin Che Othman, currently the President and Chief Executive of Permodalan Nasional Berhad, as well as Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Yusof Basiran, currently CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). Discussion Questions 1. The board of Sime Darby includes very experienced and high profile directors. How can such a board fail so spectacularly to safeguard the interests of the company 2. What are the critical attributes of an effective board To what extent does the Sime Darby board possess such attributes 3. Should the board members also be held accountable and not just Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid 4. On hindsight, if you were one of the directors on the main board of Sime Darby, what would you have done back in 2005 148The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco Endnotes: 1 “Sime Darbyled consortium awarded Bakum contract”, N.D. http://www.mtdcap.com/e107files/downloads/gn110206.pdf, accessed on 16 December 2011. 2 Yap, Leng Kuen. “What are the problems at Bakun Dam”. 11 August 2010. The Star Online. 16 December 2011. http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story. aspfile=/2010/8/11/business/6832427sec=business 3 Sime Darby. “Material Litigation Civil Suit in the High Court of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur against Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubair Ahmad Zubir bin Haji Murshid, Dato’ Mohamad Shukri bin Baharom, Abdul Rahim bin Ismail, Abdul Kadir Alias and Mohd. Zaki bin Othman Suit No.: D22 NCC23792010”, 23 December 2010. Bursa Malaysia. http://announcements.bursamalaysia.com/EDMS/edmswebh.nsf/ LsvAllByID/ 482576120041BDAA4825780200366B88OpenDocument, accessed on 14 December 2011. 4 Ibid 5 Ibid 6 The Edge Financial Daily. “Major events leading to Sime Darby’s energy division cost overruns”, 15 June 2010. The Edge Online. 16 December 2011. http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/inthefinancialdaily/167959 majoreventsleadingtosimedarbysenergydivisioncostoverruns.html 7 Sime Darby. “Response to articles on cost overruns in Maersk Oil Qatar Oil Gas project”, 18 April 2008. http://www.simedarbyenergyutilities.com/ ResponseToArticlesOnCostOverrunsInMaerskOilQatarOil GasProject.aspx, accessed on 20 April 2011. 8 Francis, Isabelle. “Story of The Year: Sime’s juicy fiasco takes the cake”, 27 December 2010. The Edge Malaysia. 12 December 2011. http://www. theedgemalaysia.com/features/180083storyoftheyearsimesjuicyfiasco takesthecake.html 9 Shanmugam, M. “Big Money: The buck stops with Zubir”, 17 May 2010. The Edge Malaysia. Factiva. 15 April 2011. 10 Chan, Tien Hin. “Sime Darby declines after removing CEO on losses at Qatar, Bakun projects”, 14 May 2010. Bloomberg. 12 Dec 2011. http:// www.bloomberg.com/news/20100514/simedarbysharesfallmostin16 monthsoncostoverrunsceoremoval.html 149The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco 11 Permatasari, S., Chan, T.H.. “Sime Darby removes chief executive after cost overruns in Qatar, Bakun dam”, 13 May 2010. Bloomberg. 12 December 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20100513/simedarbyremoves chiefexecutiveaftercostoverrunsinqatarbakumdam.html 12 Soo, Ai Peng. “Malaysia’s Sime Darby posts first quarterly loss”, 27 May 2010. Reuters. 16 December 2011. http://uk.reuters.com/ article/2010/05/27/simedarbyresultsidUKWNAS878520100527 13 Shanmugam, M.. “Cover Story: A man in a hurry”, 17 May 2010. The Edge Malaysia. 12 December 2011. http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/ features/167628coverstoryamaninahurry.html 14 Shanmugam, M. “Big Money: The buck stops with Zubir” 17 May 2010. 15 Ibid 16 Loong, Tse Min. “Sime Darby’s Zubir Axed”, 14 May 2010. The Edge Malaysia. 14 December 2011. http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/inthe financialdaily/166058simedarbyszubiraxed.html 17 “Sime plans legal action to recover 875 million losses”,17 November 2010. The Star/Asia News Network. 15 April 2011. http://www.asiaone.com/ News/Latest+News/Asia/Story/A1Story20101117247640.html 18 Sime Darby. “Statement by Sime Darby on forensic audits”, 20 September 2010. http://www.simedarby.com/StatementbySimeDarbyon ForensicAudits.aspx, accessed on 14 December 2011. 19 “Sime Darby sues exCEO and 4 executives”, 24 December 2010. The Star/ Asia News Network. 20 April 2011. http://business.asiaone.com/Business/ News/Story/A1Story20101224254492.html 20 Sime Darby. “Material Litigation Civil Suit in the High Court of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur against Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubair Ahmad Zubir bin Haji Murshid, Dato’ Mohamad Shukri bin Baharom, Abdul Rahim bin Ismail, Abdul Kadir Alias and Mohd. Zaki bin Othman Suit No.: D22NCC23792010”, 23 December 2010. Bursa Malaysia. http:// announcements.bursamalaysia.com/EDMS/EdmsWebh.nsf/LsvAllByID/48 2576120041BDAA4825780200366B88OpenDocument, accessed on 14 December 2011. 21 “Sime Darby sues exCEO and 4 executives”, 24 December 2010. The Star/ Asia News Network. 20 April 2011. http://business.asiaone.com/Business/ News/Story/A1Story20101224254492.html 150The Sime Darby Fianancial Fiasco 22 “Zubir wants 22 Sime directors in lawsuit”, 20 March 2011. newsedge. 16 December 2011. http://dialog.newsedge.com/portal.aspsite=20071008 14443105593225searchfolderid=pg2007100814522209759333block =defaultportlet=epnzesm=onsyntax=advanceddisplay=Corporate+ 26amp3B+Business+Lawaction=sitetopicsmode=realtimenzenb =leftcriteria=5Btopic3Dbizlaw5DsearchID=731189datetime= 5Btminus3D75Dhdlaction=storystoryid=5Bstoryid=21ra3MNcV B2qh8y0z57SKDuGhd5ThCNsDDAxxrVrfhRMSUeDIkncE8pGpj6M uPK0k9QlLKKja3x5zmm6g5Drtcrdata=onepname=NACEO 23 Ibid 24 “Sime Darby forms independent board for each division, says Musa”, 31 January 2011. Bernama. 14 December 2011 http://web6.bernama.com/bernama/v3/bm/newslite.phpid=560881 25 “Sime settles Qatar oil project dispute”, 26 March 2011. Business Times. 14 December 2011. http://www.assaluyeh.com/printnews.php15386en 151Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment Case Overview After four months of bitter resistance, Cadbury shook hands with Kraft at midnight on 18 January 2010. Cadbury’s board “unanimously” recommended that the final takeover bid of US19.5 billion or 840p per share be accepted by Cadbury’s shareholders. The combined group would own 40 confectionery brands each with annual sales of more than 100 million, making the group the world’s largest candy maker. However, public discontent brought Kraft under fire from British politicians, together with increased fears of job cuts in Britain. Time will tell whether the takeover truly created value. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the role of takeovers as a corporate governance mechanism; the pros and cons of a takeover from the viewpoint of different stakeholders; the role of the board, shareholders and regulators in takeovers; the powers of the board and shareholders of acquiring and target companies in takeover situations; and differences in the governance of takeovers in different jurisdictions. The Story of Cadbury plc For many years, Cadbury had been the leading global confectionery company. Cadbury was an everpresent member of the FTSE100 since the commencement of the index in 1984. It produces 7.3 per cent of the world’s chocolate, 27 per cent of the world’s gum, and 7.4 per cent of Felyna Lee, Joshua Lim and Kevin Teo prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management.. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Joanna Ng Yi Mei under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2011 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 152Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment the world’s candy. Cadbury had a market share of 10.1 per cent of the global confectionery market, more than 1 percentage point higher than its closest competitor, Mars. Under the leadership of CEO Todd Stitzer, Cadbury’s revenue in 2008 was a whopping £5.384 billion with a profit 1 of £366 million . Compared to its competitors like Hershey’s, Mars and Nestlé, Cadbury was also less reliant on holiday season sales because of its numerous yearround products like Halls cough drops. In 2008, familycontrolled Mars announced its merger with Wrigley to form the world’s leading confectionery company, relegating Cadbury to second place. In May 2008, the company completed the demerger of its confectionery and beverage businesses. Under this demerger, the confectionery unit was separated from its North American beverage unit which was renamed Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS). This reversed the initial merger of the two companies, Schweppes and Cadbury, to create Cadbury Schweppes in 1969. According to Stitzer: “Separating these two great businesses will enable two outstanding management teams to focus on generating further revenue growth, increasing margin, 2 and enhancing returns for their respective shareowners”. Larry Young became the President and CEO of DPS. The demerger followed calls by some institutional investors for the two businesses to be split up. The increased competition and the decrease in Cadbury’s size following the demerger made the company an open target for potential takeovers. Kraft Launches First Takeover Bid Kraft Foods Inc was the second largest confectionery, food and beverage corporation in the world after Nestlé SA, with revenues of US40.4 billion and profit of US3.02 billion in 2008. On 7 September 2009, Kraft initiated its takeover bid of Cadbury for US16.7 billion (£9.8 billion), offering US4.92 in cash and 0.2589 new Kraft shares per Cadbury share. This was a premium of 31 per cent from Cadbury’s closing price of £5.68. Kraft believed a takeover would significantly expand the global reach of both businesses and create synergies worth US625 million in the form of cost savings in operations, administration and marketing. In return, Kraft vowed to save workers’ jobs at Cadbury’s factory in Somerdale, Bristol that was to close as production was shifted to Poland. 153Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment Analysts, however, suggested that the initial offer by Kraft significantly undervalued Cadbury as it valued Cadbury at less than 15 times EBITDA when Cadbury arguably deserved more than 19.5 times EBITDA. Kraft’s offer was “emphatically rejected” by Cadbury’s board, led by Roger Carr. Cadbury’s board was made up of 9 members, 6 of whom were independent directors. Calling the offer “derisory”, the board claimed that 3 Kraft was attempting “to buy Cadbury on the cheap.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch sales specialist Simon Archer published a note revealing that “Stitzer admitted that there is some strategic sense in combining the two companies and he doesn’t expect Kraft to walk away, 4 so he said his job is to get as much value as possible” . Stitzer also spoke of the “complementary elements” of the two companies, which conflicted with Cadbury’s original stance that Kraft’s offer is “fundamentally undervalued” and “made no strategic or financial sense”. Although the Cadbury family does not own Cadbury anymore, Cadbury family members had been hostile to the takeover. However, the family had little influence on the deal, as family representation on the board ended in 2000 when Chairman Dominic Cadbury retired. Approaching the UK Takeover Panel On 22 September 2009, Cadbury approached the UK Takeover Panel, asking it to impose a deadline for Kraft to make a formal offer. The City Takeover Code governs any firm bidding for a company that is listed on the London Stock Exchange and any company on the receiving end of such an approach. Cadbury wanted a “putuporshutup” action, which would force Kraft to make a bid within one month or thereafter stay away from Cadbury for at least six months. Cadbury shares hovered around £7.90 (US12.80) and analysts suggested that Cadbury would worry about losing this premium if a potential takeover dragged on. On 30 September, 2009, the UK Takeover Panel agreed to Cadbury’s request and announced a deadline of 9 November for Kraft to make a bid for Cadbury. Cadbury’s share price then rose to £7.96 following the Takeover Panel’s decision, 11 per cent above Kraft’s original offer. 154Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment The Government Voices Its Concerns The UK government, which usually takes an open approach to takeovers by overseas firms in light of its commitment to open markets for trade and investment, seemed not in favour of the takeover of homegrown chocolate champion Cadbury. UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson slammed Kraft’s takeover attempt of Cadbury and cautioned against the longterm effects and obligations of transparency and accountability of foreign ownership. The Financial Services Secretary (City Minister) Paul Myners was also apprehensive that too many British companies were being lost to foreign hands because their shares are owned by international funds which do not care much for domestic heritage. He said, “It is easier to take over a 5 company here than anywhere else in the world. ” Kraft’s Second Takeover Bid Offer Kraft officially launched a takeover bid for Cadbury on 9 November 2009, just hours before the 5pm GMT deadline imposed by the UK Takeover Panel. This second offer valued Cadbury at 717p (£7.17) per share, lower than the initial 745p per share offer that was rejected in September. Cadbury’s management was naturally against this but Kraft wanted to appeal to Cadbury’s shareholders this time. Irene Rosenfeld, CEO and Chairman of Kraft Foods, said, “We believe that our proposal offers the best immediate and longterm value for Cadbury’s shareholders and for the company itself compared with any other option currently 6 available, including Cadbury remaining independent.” The official launch of this hostile takeover bid gave Kraft 28 days to publish an offer document detailing the offer for shareholders. It then had up to 60 days to gather enough shares to complete the deal. Kraft offered Cadbury shareholders 300p and 0.2589 new Kraft shares for each Cadbury share, which was the exact offer as that in September. 155Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment However, the decreased value of Kraft shares and currency shifts meant that it was now worth less. Carr did not back down and described Cadbury as “an exceptional 7 standalone business” . Cadbury also had home ground advantage, with Lord Mandelson warning that Kraft would face a backlash if it tried to buy Cadbury on the cheap. The Potential Arrival of the White Knights and Share Price Fluctuations On 18 November 2009, confectionery conglomerates Hershey and Ferrero were holding preliminary talks about a possible bid. Nomura analyst Alex Smith commented that investors might have a preference to back the alliance with familyowned Ferrero. This acquisition aided Cadbury, as it was weak in the Ferrero strongholds of France, Germany and Italy. However, it was doubtful whether familycontrolled Ferrero had the financial means to support this merger. On the other hand, Hershey and Cadbury had a strong cultural fit, which meant fewer job cuts than a Kraft takeover. Cadbury’s American chief executive had twice attempted unsuccessfully to merge both companies. Hershey had the licence to sell Cadbury products in the US, and the controlling trust behind Hershey was rumoured to have wanted to create a consolidated global confectionery market. On 23 November 2009, Nestlé also joined the Cadbury takeover game as a potential counterbidder, a move that sent Cadbury shares to a twomonth high since September. Bloomberg reported that Nestlé was considering its options with bankers aiming to participate in a breakup bid for Cadbury. Excited by the prospect of a bidding war, investors pushed Cadbury’s share price up 13.5p to 814p overnight. Cadbury shares were then worth 43 per cent more than in early September, before Cadbury had rejected Kraft’s first offer. 156Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment In the meantime, Kraft started the formal 60day timetable for its takeover bid by issuing a 180page circular stating that Kraft and Cadbury would 8 be a good fit, creating a “global powerhouse” in confectionery. Also, Kraft was optimistic about the acquisition benefitting each other in their various stronghold markets. Escalating Resistance To The Takeover The increased possibility of Cadbury being sold to a foreign firm stirred strong emotions from Cadbury’s stakeholders. The general public lamented the loss of 186 years of British heritage, while politicians and the 4,500 UK and Irish workers feared the worst for their jobs and pay cuts. On 10 December 2009, Cadbury’s workers union Unite announced a “Keep Cadbury Independent” campaign to resist Kraft’s advancement. “We must see off the Kraft bid and any others which do not have this company and its workforce’s best interests at heart,” said Len McCluskey, Unite’s assistant general secretary. It was a wellknown fact that despite whatever good intentions Kraft may have had, mergers and acquisitions have historically led to job losses during restructuring and integration. Further, the amount of debt that Kraft would be assuming to realise this 9 deal left an “irresistible imperative” to cut expenses and streamline the workforce. After garnering much support from the public, Unite and the workers later took the campaign to the UK Parliament on 16 December. UK nationalistic sentiment ran high, with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg leading the pack in stating that it was “plain wrong” that the state owned Royal Bank of Scotland helped Kraft raise the money. RBS was one of a few banks which shared £120 million in fees to aid the takeover. Clegg referred to Lord Mandelson’s statement that the government would mount a huge opposition to Kraft’s takeover and asked “Why is it RBS 10 should now want to lend vast amounts of our money to Kraft to fund it” Cadbury put up a strong fight and issued an official Defence Document on 14 December against Kraft’s bid. The chocolate maker raised targets for the next four years and pledged to hand more cash to shareholders if it 157Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment could remain independent. Cadbury repeatedly insisted that the US16.3 billion (£9.8 billion) bid was far too low, and Carr urged shareholders at a news conference not to sell themselves short. Kraft Sells Pizza Business to Nestle to Fund Cadbury Offer As the 19 January deadline imposed by British takeover rules loomed near, Kraft needed to win over at least 50 per cent of Cadbury’s shareholders or stay away from Cadbury for at least six months. On 5 January 2010, Kraft sold its pizza business to Nestlé for US3.9 billion to help fund its offer for Cadbury. Kraft’s North American pizza business was the world’s largest, reaping US291 million in profits for 2009. It was an attractive offer Nestlé did not reject. Reports deemed this as Kraft’s move to dissuade Nestlé from competing in the bid for Cadbury. Following its successful sale, Kraft sweetened the deal for Cadbury shareholders and announced that those who elected to accept the “Partial Cash Alternative” would get more cash in lieu of stock 60p more per Cadbury share or 240p more per Cadbury American depository 11 share (ADS) . However, not all of Kraft’s shareholders supported the acquisition. Renowned investor Warren Buffett, one of Cadbury’s major shareholders, was one of them. Owning a 9.4 per cent stake in Cadbury, Buffett said if he had the chance to vote against the deal he would, as the proposed “bad deal” has left him feeling “poor”. Kraft’s proposed bid risked undervaluing Kraft’s stock, and he sent an indirect warning to the company not to pay too much in cash or shares on the deal. Cadbury Releases Final Defence Document On 12 January 2010, Cadbury’s board published another document, which was seen as the last line of defence to reject Kraft’s bid. It reiterated the board’s opinion of Kraft’s “derisory” offer, attacking Kraft’s management and revealing that it beat its own target for operating margins in 2009. 158Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment Carr mentioned that Kraft’s latest offer was even more unattractive than it was when Kraft made its formal offer in December. At this point, attempts to thwart the completion of the deal were becoming increasingly futile. Hedge and mutual funds bought up more than 25 per cent of Cadbury’s shares in hopes of a deal. The final straw came when Franklin Templeton, a large mutual fund with a 7 per cent stake, indicated it would accept an offer of 830p (£8.30). The Kraft Takeover On 19 January 2010, Cadbury board advised its shareholders to accept a 12 new offer of 840p a share valuing the company at £11.5bn (18.9bn). The deal was a significant increase on earlier Kraft bids. Consequently, Hershey dropped its plans to acquire Cadbury. The deal became final after Kraft secured acceptances from shareholders representing 71.73 per cent of Cadbury. On 2 February 2010, Cadbury officially became a part of Kraft and was delisted from the London Stock 13 Exchange on 8 March 2010. The takeover of Cadbury by Kraft was met with continued disapproval from the UK public, as Cadbury was regarded as part of British culture. To them, losing Cadbury to Kraft was akin to losing a part of British legacy. On 3 February 2010, Stitzer announced his intention to stand down as CEO of Cadbury after a 27year career at the company. Andrew Bonfield also announced his intention to step down as CFO. Stitzer, on his resignation, thanked everyone for being involved in a good fight for the Cadbury bid defence and wished Rosenfeld all the best in taking Cadbury to greater heights. On the same day, Carr announced his intention to step down as Chairman of Cadbury. 159Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment Discussion Questions 1. Hostile takeovers are often argued to be an important corporate governance mechanism. Do you agree 2. Was the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft good from a corporate governance standpoint Who benefited from the takeover Explain the divergence of interests for different stakeholder groups. 3. What should be the role of government in regulating takeovers 4. The UK Financial Services Secretary said: “It is easier to take over a company here than anywhere else in the world”. How might the scenario be different if Cadbury were to launch a takeover bid for a US company such as Kraft 5. Warren Buffett, a major shareholder of Kraft, said if he had the chance to vote against the deal he would. How much say should the shareholders of acquiring and target firms have in takeovers How is the situation different between the US and UK 6. Why are hostile takeovers relatively rare in Asia 7. What are the rules governing takeovers in your country Are they similar to the US or UK or neither 8. What are the powers of the board versus shareholders of the acquiring and target companies in a takeover situation in your country End Notes: 1 Cadbury. “Annual Report Accounts 2008” http://www.investis.com/ cadburyir/report/ar2008.pdf, accessed on 23 February 2012. 2 Palmer, Daniel. ‘Cadbury Schweppes completes demerger’. 2008. Australian Food News, accessed on 9 January 2010. 3 BBC News. “Cadbury Fights back against Kraft Bid”. 14 December 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8411233.stm, accessed on 9 April 2010. 160Cadbury and Kraft: A Bittersweet Moment 4 ScottThomas, C. “Cadbury tells Kraft to bid or back off”. 2009. Food Navigator USA, accessed on 9 April 2010. 5 Ibid. 6 Werdigier, J. de la Merced, M. “Cold Response to Kraft’s Cadbury Bid”. 2009. The New York Times, accessed on 9 April 2010. 7 Wardell, Jane. “Cadbury rejects new Kraft bid.”. 9 November 2009. The Guardian. 28 January 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/ feedarticle/8798646 8 Macalister, T. Clark, A. “Don’t try to make a quick buck from Cadbury, Mandelson tells Kraft”. 2009. The Guardian, accessed on 9 April 2010. 9 Crush, P. “Kraft takeover of Cadbury a sad day for British manufacturing”. 2010. HR Magazine, accessed on 9 April 2010. 10 BBC News. “Clegg attacks Brown over RBS funding for Cadbury bid.” 20 January 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8470776.stm, accessed on 28 January 2012. 11 RTT News. “Kraft Foods Offer For Cadbury To Include Partial Cash Alternative Enabled By Net Proceeds From Sale Of North American Pizza Business” 5 January 2010. http://www.rttnews.com/Story. aspxtype=tsId=1170451, accessed on 23 February 2012. 12 BBC News. “Cadbury agrees Kraft Takeover Bid”. 19 January 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8467007.stm, accessed on 11 December 2011. 13 PR Newswire. “OFFER by KRAFT FOODS INC. for CADBURY PLC Notice of Delisting and Related Matters”. 5 February 2010. http://www.prnewswire.com/newsreleases/offerbykraftfoodsincfor cadburyplcnoticeofdelistingandrelatedmatters83618362.html, accessed on 14 December 2011. 161Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico Case Overview On 20 April 2010, a massive explosion occurred on the Deepwater 1 Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers perished . Two days later, the rig sank, snapping the riser pipe and creating a massive oil spill. Although the Macondo well was effectively killed by 19 September 2010, the incident had tarnished BP’s reputation and prompted further questions on the company’s safety and environmental record. It also produced the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, at 19 times the 2 size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill . In this case study, we examine the factors that led to this incident and BP’s responses in its aftermath. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as board and management accountability, corporate responsibility, risk management, code of conduct and whistleblowing, compensation practices, and stakeholder communications. A History of Mistakes The Deepwater Horizon spill was not the only disaster that had afflicted BP in its recent troubled history. The company had previously racked up a number of safety breaches over the years. In March 2005, a fire and explosion in its Texas City Refinery killed 15 people and injured more than 3 170 workers. It resulted in financial losses exceeding US1.5 billion . This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Chua Yi Eugene, Nguyen Minh Bao, Vu Thi Hong Nga, and Tamanna Haque under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Kellynn Khor under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 162Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico 4 A few months later in July, a wronglyinstalled valve and shoddy welding in underwater parts of BP’s Thunder Horse oil platform caused the vessel to flood and almost sink when Hurricane Dennis hit. While BP and its minority partner Exxon Mobil had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in 5 repairs , and with oil production being set back 3 years, it appeared BP had yet to learn its lesson. Months later, in March 2006, BP’s operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, experienced an oil spill, with up to 267,000 6 gallons of thick crude oil deposited, due to widespread corrosion in undermaintained and poorly inspected pipes – a situation which could have been prevented. In May 2007, Tony Hayward replaced John Browne as CEO and made a 7 commitment to focus on “safety and reliability” like a “laser” . Under his reign, BP showed improvements in safety and had begun to improve its reputation. It all came crashing down with the Deepwater Horizon incident at BP’s Macondo well. 8 “I’d Like to Get My Life Back” In the immediate aftermath of the incident, it was determined that the best possible solution was a relief well. However, this would take about 9 three months to complete . BP sought a faster solution by organising a massive team of about “48,000 spill responders and deployed more than 6,900 vessels to collect and contain oil and lay out more than 13 million 10 feet of protective boom” . While BP was focused on containing the spill, the unfolding crisis was exacerbated by the company’s mishandling of the media and lack of communication with stakeholders. BP initially reported that the well was 11 leaking 1,000 barrels a day ; while the US government discovered that 12 the actual rate was 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day . That essentially was “the moment the American administration exposed BP’s crude lie and 13 was the moment the company’s fate was sealed” , and the public turned on BP. 163Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico Perhaps the largest uproar was created when Hayward remarked at the height of the disaster on 30 April 2010, “I’d like my life back”, which was viewed as yet another indication of how out of touch the BP management was with the situation. Communication with Shareholders When the US Christian Brothers Investment Services resorted to 14 register a protest vote , BP tried to convince them that more information would be found in the group’s financial report. However, when it was published, the situation was not much clearer. Further, BP’s method of communication through its financial report did not satisfy its shareholders as “little information is provided on issues with significant reputational and financial implications, such as the short and longterm toxicity concerns related to BP’s substantial dispersant use, efforts to revive the 15 Gulf Coast economy, and backlogs for claimants” . Directors’ Remuneration The BP’s Directors’ Remuneration Report of 2009 showed that the top level managers of BP were receiving bonuses averaging 170 per cent of their salary. 15 per cent of this was based on safety measures while about 70 per cent of the bonus was a reflection of the Group’s financial 16 and operating performance . Reflecting the emphasis on performance and financial results above all other operating metrics, significant efforts were made in 2009 to reduce cash costs substantially. Production increased by more than 4 per cent while unit production costs were reduced by 12 per cent. The reserves replacement ratio was 129 per cent, continuing an industryleading performance. Refining and marketing cash costs were reduced by 15 per cent, and refining availability increased to 94 per cent. While BP now had one of the best performance figures of the big oil companies, safety seems to have become second to profit. 164Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico In Too “Deep”: Safety Measures and Whistleblowing A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices. Only about half of the workers interviewed felt they could report actions leading to a potentially “risky” situation without reprisal. “This fear was seen to be driven by decisions made in Houston, 17 rather than those made by rig based leaders,” the report said . During the subsequent investigations, it was found that safety documentation required by Minerals Management Service (MMS) regulations, and information on emergency procedures was not available. Furthermore, Transocean Ltd, which owned the rig and leased it to BP, would not provide detailed accounting of the Deepwater rig’s activity 18 history . Lead federal investigator Hung Nguyen chastised BP officials after they failed to point out who was responsible for ensuring safety for 19 the company’s deep water operations. As Stuart Sneed, a pipeline safety technician who was removed from the 20 company in 2006 when he ordered work to stop due to safety concerns remarked in an interview about BP’s corporate culture: “They say it’s your duty to come forward, but then when you do come forward, they screw you. They’ll destroy your life. No one up there is ever going to say anything if there is something they 21 see is unsafe … They are not going to say a word.” The Aftermath Dividend Policy Following a meeting with President Barack Obama on 16 June 2010, BP announced an agreement with the US government where it will set aside a US20billion fund to pay all legitimate claims for compensation. It also committed US500 million to a 10year independent research programme that will examine the longterm environmental impact of the 22 oil spilled and dispersants used . As a consequence of the liabilities, the BP board released a statement to cancel the previously declared first 165Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico quarter dividend payment. A further announcement declared that there 23 would be no interim dividends for the second and third quarters of 2010 . 24 The board, however, also provided a “strong commitment” in a media statement on the payment of future dividends once the longterm impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill was better assessed at the end of 2010. Rewards for failed leadership On 27 July 2010, the board announced Tony Hayward’s departure from his position as Group CEO with effect from 1 October 2010. This decision was made by a “mutual agreement” between the board and 25 Hayward . The board also approved a plan to name Robert Dudley, who was already in charge of the Gulf cleanup, as CEO. 26 The board was legally obliged to honour Hayward’s contractual terms , which entitled him to a severance payment of a year’s salary at about £1million. Hayward was allowed to immediately take out £600,000 from 27 his pension pot (valued at £11 million) . His cashbased compensation alone amounted to about £12 million and he retained his rights to a long term share performance plan. Hayward would be nominated as a non 28,29 executive director at TNKBP, BP’s joint venture in Russia . Commentators wondered why Hayward was rewarded for his “failed” leadership when he had put the oil giant in the midst of a severe political 30 storm and was responsible for a 40 per cent loss in market capitalisation . The potential increase in his wealth – a result of a recent share price rally which saw BP’s stock price rise to 467p, driving up the value of 31 his performance shares’ value to £8 million also revived public anger towards the issue of excessive executive payments by BP. The BP board was thus heavily criticised. The directors’ commitment and effectiveness in handling the crisis were questioned, with the lack of oversight in operational activities, slow reaction in resolving the disaster 32 and excessive executive compensation, cited as reasons . To reduce public dissatisfaction, it was announced that no annual cash bonus for 2010 was awarded to Dudley, Hayward and Andy Inglis, a 33 board member who left the board on 31 October 2010 . Furthermore, 166Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico no shares under a longterm incentive plan would be vested for any executive director. Dudley also announced a review of all employee remuneration for the fourth quarter of the year 2010. The sole criterion for assessing employee performance and bonuses in the fourth quarter would be based on reducing operational risks and achieving excellent safety and compliance standards. The board itself promised to improve the effectiveness of its discharge of duties. It would increase the number of its work site visits, especially for troubled Exploration Production operations; and revamp and enhance the safety committee with new blood. The board would also play a more 34 significant role in crisis planning and management . For example, the board would require more informative reports on the Company’s operating activities to help it better oversee the likelihood of future disasters. Storm on the Horizon BP’s constant false promises and failures to improve safety led shareholders to bring derivative suits on behalf of the company on the grounds of misrepresentation, and securities fraud suits for the loss of 35 BP’s market value . The board was also a target of these law suits as they were viewed as not having fulfilled their duties in exercising oversight over management. As at 20 January 2012, analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that the total amount of litigation damages BP could potentially incur from all criminal and civil lawsuits could be as much as US25 36 billion . The remedial efforts performed by the company seemed to be insufficient as executives faced angry protesters, including fishermen and women from the Gulf and climate change activists, during its annual meeting in 37 London on 14 April 2011 . The company denied entry to protesters on 38 the grounds that it had an obligation to run an orderly AGM . Meanwhile, inside, hundreds of BP investors – individual, corporate and institutional alike – questioned board members about the excessive executive pay, a lack of transparency on safety improvements, and lack of disclosure on the full environmental impact of BP’s projects. 167Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico The Journey Ahead While BP had effectively killed the Macondo well by 19 September 2010, hundreds of ongoing lawsuits and fines could yet add billions of dollars to its already staggering liabilities, while the findings of several investigations in progress could further damage its reputation. BP has 39 estimated that the spill would cost the company at least US40.9 billion and the company could illafford another disaster of this scale. As of 9 January 2012, BP disclosed that it had spent an estimated US14 billion on the response to the disaster, and that it had set aside US20 billion for economic claims and natural resource restoration and US1 billion for 40 early restoration projects. The funding for early restoration projects was to signal the company’s commitment to mitigate its actions and the impact on the environment, and in conjunction with this, BP signed an agreement with federal and state agencies for these early restoration projects aimed at the recovery 41 of areas along the Gulf Coast . BP also stepped up its corporate social responsibility by renewing its focus on safety and risk management. The Safety and Operational Risk (SOR) unit created by Dudley upon his appointment as CEO went “live” on 31 March 2011 and became fully operational as of May 2011, with “sweeping powers to oversee and audit 42 BP’s operations around the world” . On 15 July 2011, the company made a pledge to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to implement a “new set of deepwater oil and gas drilling standards for its 43 operations in the US Gulf of Mexico” . The pledge appeared to work, as BP was granted its first permit to drill for oil in the Gulf on 26 October 44 2011 . Still, BP was issued citations by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on 12 October, with the very high possibility of paying “multimilliondollar fines” for causing the spill. Should the Clean Water Act be invoked at a later date, BP would be required to pay heftier fines of up to US4,300 for every barrel of oil spilled or up to US21 45 billion altogether . 168Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico While BP has taken some significant steps to rebuild public trust and investor confidence and mend its tattered reputation with the award of 46 “67 new exploration licences in 11 countries” , it remains to be seen if BP will continue to project credible commitment through its actions towards improving its safety standards and preventing another “Deepwater”. Discussion Questions 1. With regard to the disaster, do you think the BP CEO behaved appropriately 2. Should the board and its Chairman, CarlHenric Svanberg, be held equally responsible along with the CEO 3. BP had a comprehensive code of conduct and a whistleblower policy but did not implement them effectively. Why do you think this is so What steps should a company like BP take to ensure that its code of conduct and whistleblower policy are effectively implemented 4. To what extent do you think BP’s remuneration policies contributed to the disaster 5. Was the compensation package awarded to Tony Hayward when he left BP reasonable How should companies manage the rewards for failed leadership 6. Evaluate how BP communicated with stakeholders following the disaster. 7. What measures do you think the BP board should implement to mitigate the chances of such a catastrophic accident happening in the future 169Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico Endnotes: 1 Reuters. “TIMELINE – Gulf of Mexico oil spill” 3 June 2010. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/06/03/oilspilleventsidUSN03223262 20100603, accessed on 26 November 2011 2 Agence FrancePresse. “Impacts of BP spill a year later – Facts” 2011. Global Energy Watch. http://www.globalenergywatch.com/news/299/ ImpactsofBPspillayearlaterFacts.htm, accessed on 18 April 2011. 3 US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. “Investigation Report: Refinery Explosion and Fire”. March 2007. http://www.csb.gov/assets/ document/CSBFinalReportBP.pdf, accessed on 26 November 2011 4 Lyall, Sarah. “In BP’s Record, a History of Boldness and Costly Blunders.” 12 July 2010. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/ business/energyenvironment/13bprisk.htmlpagewanted=all, accessed on 26 November 2011 5 The repair cost was approximately US250 million. “BP Profit Rises on Oil Prices After Hurricane Damage (Update7)”, via Bloomberg LP. 25 October 2005. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/newsp id=newsarchivesid=az0YjXIAsc.Y, accessed on 26 November 2011. 6 Barringer, Felicity. “Large Oil Spill in Alaska Went Undetected for Days.” 15 March 2006. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/15/ national/15spill.html, accessed on 13 April 2011 7 Rayner, Gordon. “Tony Hayward, the BP chief who vowed to make safety and reliability his top priorities.” 3 May 2010. The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/7673223/Tony HaywardtheBPchiefwhovowedtomakesafetyandreliabilityhistop priorities.html, accessed on 15 April 2011 8 The Economist. “BP and golden parachutes The wages of failure”. 29 July 2010. http://www.economist.com/node/16693567, accessed on 7 April 2011. 9 BP. “Update on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response 24 May”. 24 May 2010. http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.docategoryId=2012968content Id=7062283, accessed on 26 November 2011. 10 Agence FrancePresse. “Impacts of BP spill a year later – Facts” 2011. Global Energy Watch. http://www.globalenergywatch.com/news/299/ ImpactsofBPspillayearlaterFacts.htm, accessed on 18 April 2011. 170Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico 11 The New York Times. “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010)”. 2010. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/o/oilspills/ gulfofmexico2010/index.html, accessed on 26 November 2011. 12 RestoreTheGulf.gov. “Flow Rate Group Provides Preliminary Best Estimate Of Oil Flowing from BP Oil Well”. 27 May 2010.http://www.restorethegulf. gov/release/2010/05/27/flowrategroupprovidespreliminarybestestimate oilflowingbpoilwell, accessed on 26 November 2011. 13 Zamir, D. Shlomi, B. “How not to deal with a PR disaster; BP’s 10 major mistakes in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and what can be learned from them.” 2 August 2010. Globes. http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview. aspdid=1000579029fid=4188Top of Form, accessed on 18 April 2011 14 Mason, Rowena. “BP chief Bob Dudley faces a grilling at this week’s shareholder meeting”. 10 April 2011. The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8440116/BP chiefBobDudleyfacesagrillingatthisweeksshareholdermeeting.html, accessed on 18 April 2011 15 Ceres. “Assessment of the BP 2010 Annual Report”. 4 April 2011. http://www.ceres.org/files/bpannualreportassessment/atdownload/file, accessed on 20 April 2011. 16 BP. “BP Annual Report and Accounts 2009”. 2009. p. 84 17 Urbina, Ian. “Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety.” 21 July 2010. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/ us/22transocean.html, accessed on 26 November 2011 18 Pritchard, Justin. “BP rig inspections were fewer than advertised. With Deepwater Horizon, agency didn’t live up to policy of monthly visits.” 16 May 2010. MSNBC Today. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37179888/ ns/today/, accessed on 7 April 2011 19 Lin Il, RongGong. “Federal inquiry takes aim at BP’s corporate culture on safety.” 26 August 2010. The Los Angeles Times.http://articles.latimes. com/2010/aug/26/nation/lanaoilspillhearings20100827, accessed on 18 April 2011 20 Lustgarten, Abrahm Knutson, Ryan. “Years of Internal BP Probes Warned That Neglect Could Lead to Accidents. 2010. ProPublica. http://www.propublica.org/article/yearsofinternalbpprobeswarnedthat neglectcouldleadtoaccidents, accessed on 12 April 2011 171Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico 21 Ibid 22 BP. “BP Annual Report and Form 20F 2010”. 2010. p. 6. 23 BP. “BP Establishes 20 Billion Claims Fund for Deepwater Horizon Spill and Outlines Dividend Decisions”. 16 June 2010. http://www.bp.com/ genericarticle.docategoryId=2012968contentId=7062966, accessed on 14 April 2011. 24 Ibid 25 BP. “BP CEO Tony Hayward to Step Down and be Succeeded by Robert Dudley.” 27 July 2010. http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.docategoryId=20 12968contentId=7063976, accessed on 10 April 2011. 26 BBC. “BP boss Hayward to get immediate £600,000 pension”. 26 July 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business10434908, accessed on 9 April 2011. 27 Ibid. 28 BP. “BP CEO Tony Hayward to Step Down and be Succeeded by Robert Dudley.” 27 July 2010. http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.docategoryId=20 12968contentId=7063976, accessed on 10 April 2011 29 United Press International, Inc. “Hayward leaves TNKBP”. 27 September 2011. http://www.upi.com/BusinessNews/EnergyResources/2011/09/27/ HaywardleavesTNKBP/UPI38541317124214/, accessed on 26 December 2011. 30 BBC. “BP boss Hayward to get immediate £600,000 pension”. 26 July 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business10434908, accessed on 9 April 2011 31 Mason, Rowena. “BP chief Bob Dudley faces a grilling at this week’s shareholder meeting”. 10 April 2011. The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8440116/BP chiefBobDudleyfacesagrillingatthisweeksshareholdermeeting.html, accessed on 18 April 2011 32 Heineman, Ben W. “BP’s Board Has Questions to Answer, To”. 27 July 2010. http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/jul2010/ ca20100727717276.htm. accessed on 26 November 2011. 172Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico 33 BP. “Directors’ remuneration report” 2 March 2011. BP Annual Report and Form 20F 2010. http://www.bp.com/assets/bpinternet/globalbp/ globalbpukenglish/setbranch/STAGING/commonassets/downloads/pdf/ ICDRR10directorsremunerationreport2010.pdf, accessed on 10 April 2011. 34 Lublin, Joann and Herron, James. “No Bonus for BP Managers Overseeing Fatal OilWell.” 4 March 2011. The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj. com/article/SB10001424052748703300904576178714081529234.html, accessed on 10 April 2011. 35 Fisk, Margaret and Calkins, Laurel. “BP Misled Investors Before Gulf Spill, Lawyers Say”. 16 February 2011. Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20110215/bpmisledinvestorsbefore gulfoilspillinflatingshareslawyerssay.html, accessed on 7 April 2011. 36 Swint, Brian. “BP May Pay U.S. 25 Billion for Gulf Spill, Morgan Stanley Says”. 19 January 2012. Bloomberg Businessweek. http://www.businessweek.com/news/20120119/bpmaypayus25billion forgulfspillmorganstanleysays.html, accessed on 25 January 2012. 37 Webb, Tim McVeigh, Karen. “Protesters target BP annual meeting.” 14 April 2011. The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/ apr/14/protestersbpagm, accessed on 18 April 2011 38 Reuters. “BP’s annual meeting marred by spill protesters”. 14 April 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/14/bpagmidUSLDE73D1OK2011 0414, accessed on 26 November 2011. 39 Weber, Harry. “One year after the spill, BP is looking strong”. 18 April 2011. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42650825/ns/businessusbusiness/t/one yearafterspillbplookingstrong/, accessed on 26 November 2011. 40 “Gulf response by the numbers”. 2012. http://www.bp.com/bodycopyarticle. docategoryId=1contentId=7052055 accessed on 26 January 2012. 41 BP. “BP Commits to Early Restoration Projects Along Gulf Coast”. 21 April 2011. http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.docategoryId=2012968c ontentId=7068569 accessed on 28 December 2011 42 BP. “Managing operational risk”.http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle 800.docategoryId=9036185contentId=7066900, accessed on 4 December 2011. 173Drilling into Disaster: BP in the Gulf of Mexico 43 BP. “BP Announces Enhanced Drilling Standards in the Gulf of Mexico”. 15 July 2011. http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.docategoryId=2012968c ontentId=7069905, accessed on 4 December 2011. 44 O’Toole, James. “BP to resume drilling in Gulf of Mexico”. 26 October 2011. CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/26/news/companies/bpdrill gulf/index.htm, accessed on 4 December 2011. 45 Tracy, Tennille. “BP Moves to Return to Gulf” 22 October 2011. The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204618704 576645051108233460.html, accessed on 4 December 2011. 46 BP. “Dudley Sets Out Priorities For Stronger, Safer BP” 25 October 2011. http://www.bp.com/extendedgenericarticle.docategoryId=2012968conte ntId=7071741, accessed on 4 December 2011. 174HP: The Mark Hurd Saga HP: The Mark Hurd Saga “The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago” — Lawrence Ellison, CEO of Oracle Case Overview In 2005, HP hired Mark Hurd as CEO, replacing Carly Fiorina. In contrast to HP’s long company policy of employee retention known as “The HP Way”, Hurd embarked on a series of costcutting measures which included the retrenchment of 15,000 workers. Hurd was also widely credited for improving HP’s performance, increasing HP’s stock price twofold within two years. However, in June 2010, Hurd was alleged to have submitted inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with an HP marketing consultant. This was deemed to have violated HP’s standards of business conduct. As a result, Hurd resigned from his positions as Chairman, CEO and President. This was followed by much controversy surrounding Hurd’s lucrative severance package. Hurd then proceeded to join one of HP’s main rivals, Oracle, as its copresident and director. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as ethics, the role of the board in developing and enforcing the right culture and “tone at the top”, the challenges faced by a board in holding the CEO to account, and executive compensation. This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Alan Khor, Tan Ruizhi, Darren Low and Lin Junliang under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Koh Kian Sin under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 175HP: The Mark Hurd Saga About HP HewlettPackard Company, commonly known as HP, is a multinational information technology (IT) corporation headquartered in California, USA. The company was founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939 and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It is one of the world’s largest IT companies. HP’s core business is built around the development and manufacturing of computers, data storage, networking hardware, the design of software and delivery services. HP also offers aftersales support for its products and partner products, especially in the provision of consulting services. The HP Way On 1 January 1939, electrical engineers Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded the HewlettPackard Company. From the company’s early days, the founders had decided that its employees deserved a share of 12 HP’s success . This would be done through production bonuses and companywide profitsharing plans. The founders also ran the company based on the principle of “management by objective”, where employees were provided with overall objectives and the flexibility to choose their own direction. The founders decided that HP should be built on a loyal and dedicated work force. Thus, HP implemented a policy to facilitate employee 3 retention . When HP became a publicly traded company in 1957, all employees with six months of service received an automatic stock grant and qualified for a stock option programme. After going public, Bill and Dave held a company meeting with 20 senior managers to decide on the company’s objectives. These objectives eventually formed the basis of “The HP Way”. It comprised seven aspects: profit, customers, field of interests, growth, employees, management and citizenship. 176HP: The Mark Hurd Saga HP under Hurd: The ReAwakening of a Giant On 1 April 2005, HP announced the arrival of Mark Hurd, replacing Carly Fiorina as the CEO of HP. Little was known about Hurd, and many stakeholders were concerned about HP’s future in the fastpaced and competitive industry. Hurd was described as “aggressive” and “ruthlessly 4 efficient” by Forbes and true enough, Hurd embarked on an aggressive 5 costcutting strategy. This included the retrenchment of 15,200 workers. Hurd’s retail strategy for HP was simple: to make HP’s retail outlets a onestop centre for consumers, combining product sales with superior customer services. As a result of Hurd’s clear and direct approach, HP’s stock price increased more than twofold from US20 at the time of his appointment in 2005 to 6 US53 in late 2007 . HP’s profits soared not merely because of cost cutting, but from real growth across its different business segments as well. In 2007, HP’s annual revenue reached a high of US104 billion and 7 HP overtook its longtime rival IBM. In 2009, Hurd was named one of the “TopGun CEOs” by Brendan Wood International. The Scandal In June 2010, Jodie Fisher, a contractor of HP, made a claim of sexual harassment against Hurd. Fisher was a marketing consultant with HP for the past two years and was assigned to organise company functions for highvalue customers. The HP board of directors responded immediately by forming an investigation team that comprised HP’s General Counsel’s office together with an outside counsel. While there was insufficient evidence that Hurd had violated HP’s policy on sexual harassment, the probe found instances of Hurd submitting inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with Fisher. HP also alleged that there were numerous instances where Fisher received compensation and 8 reimbursement without a legitimate business purpose . These violated HP’s standards of business conduct. 177HP: The Mark Hurd Saga The Fallout On 6 Aug 2010, HP announced that Mark Hurd will resign from his positions as Chairman, CEO and President with immediate effect. The board concluded that “Mark’s conduct demonstrated a profound lack of 9 judgement” . In a conference call with analysts, General Counsel Michael Holston said that “the board concluded, and Mark agreed, it would be impossible for him to be an effective leader moving forward and that he 10 had to step down” . Yet, in spite of his resignation, Hurd was awarded a lucrative severance package consisting of cash severance payments, stock options, performancebased stock units and restricted stock units. When medical and dental benefits were included, the total amount of 11 compensation would exceed US34 million . When CFO Cathie Lesjak was subsequently appointed as CEO on an interim basis, the board expressed confidence in HP’s strategy of profitable growth, as well as in the senior management team and their ability to perform. In a move to allay potential fears from Wall Street, HP simultaneously raised its fullyear outlook for revenues and earnings pershare. These forecasts topped analysts’ expectations, signalling the company’s belief that Hurd’s resignation would not put a dent on HP’s performance. The Aftermath In spite of the efforts of HP, Wall Street remained unconvinced. The announcement of Mark Hurd’s departure had caught shareholders by surprise. HP’s share price immediately tumbled 10 per cent from US46.30 to US41.85. By the next trading day, HP lost over US9 billion in market capitalisation. On 12 August 2010, shareholders filed a derivative lawsuit against HP’s board, accusing the directors of breaching fiduciary duties in the way they had handled Hurd’s resignation. The main area of contention involved the large severance package that Hurd was entitled to. Given that Hurd had willingly resigned in light of the investigation findings, the company was not obligated to compensate Hurd with the severance package. The shareholders felt that the compensation was undeserving, especially since Hurd’s resignation was due to his own misconduct. 178HP: The Mark Hurd Saga The Future of Mark Hurd On 6 September 2010, slightly more than a month after Mark Hurd’s resignation as CEO of HP, Oracle Corporation announced it had appointed 12 Hurd as the company’s copresident and director . Oracle had been regarded as HP’s rival, after Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Oracle’s employment of Hurd further aggravated the ties between these two giants in the industry. A few days after the announcement, HP filed a lawsuit against Oracle and Hurd, claiming that Hurd would not be able to perform his role fully at Oracle without giving away HP’s trade secrets and confidential information. This therefore violated a confidentiality agreement in the 13 employment contract when Hurd first joined HP . Nevertheless, investors of Oracle welcomed Hurd’s appointment, sending the company’s share price surging 6 per cent to US24.29 on the day of the announcement. Was the Firing of Hurd a Mistake The HP board was afraid that Hurd’s indiscretion could set an inappropriate example within the company if he was allowed to remain as CEO. The tolerance of misconduct, regardless of its magnitude, could erode the strong corporate culture in HP. Through the company’s inception, HP has been known for doing things “the HP Way”. One of HP’s shared values was “trust and respect for individuals”, described as “working together 14 to create a culture of inclusion built on trust, respect and dignity for all” . HP’s shared values also included “uncompromising integrity”, and HP should make no exceptions so as to set the “right tone at the top”. The 15 resignation of Hurd would reinforce this strong culture . However, given the many scandals in HP’s history, it is questionable how much of “the HP Way” still remains relevant today. 179HP: The Mark Hurd Saga “The HP Way”: Still Relevant On 3 September 2001, thenCEO Carly Fiorina announced a merger with Compaq, a personal computer company. The merger would 16 involve the retrenchment of 15,000 workers . This move was met with intense opposition from shareholders, including Walter Hewlett, son of Bill Hewlett. “The HP Way” was felt to have been endangered under Fiorina’s management. However, this would continue even after Fiorina’s departure. Shortly after his arrival, Mark Hurd, who was previously CEO of National Cash Register (NCR), announced a series of aggressive cost cutting measures, such as laying off around 15,000 workers and the 1718 reorganisation of the sales force into a more productspecific focus . Thus, it could be seen in many instances that “The HP Way” was losing its influence on HP’s company culture. In 2006, HP made headlines when it admitted to the use of “pretexting” in its internal investigation to discover the source of leaked board room discussions. Hurd, who was CEO at the time of the scandal, claimed he was unaware of the use of “pretexting” in the investigations. On 18 January 2007, Hurd took over Patricia Dunn’s role as Chairman of the 19 board . Hurd was subsequently involved in a lawsuit by HP’s investors who claimed that the senior executives and directors engaged in insider trading. He was alleged to have sold US1.4 million worth of HP stock on 25 August 2006, shortly before HP announced the details of the board spying scandal. Hurd claimed that the August sale of shares was made in the regular course of an investment strategy. These shares had merely represented 5 per cent of his HP holdings and did not directly cause the 20 stock price to decline . This raised doubts about the moral integrity of Hurd and the HP board. 180HP: The Mark Hurd Saga Looking Ahead On 30 September 2010, HP appointed Léo Apotheker, former CEO of SAP, as CEO and President. The board also elected Ray Lane, Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, as nonexecutive Chairman 21 of the board . Investors’ reaction to Apotheker’s appointment was mixed, and many wondered if he would be able to fill the shoes of Hurd. It would be up to Apotheker to reestablish “the HP Way”, or even to define his own “The Leo Way”, as the Economist puts it, of doing things. However, Apotheker did not last long. On 22 September 2011, he was fired and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and a current board member of HP, replaced him. This came at a difficult time for HP, when its US1.2 billion mobile operating system had been floundering and HP 22 had been considering spinning off its PC business . Discussion Questions 1. Comment on the fall of HP’s share price after Mark Hurd’s resignation. Does this mean that the decision to ask Hurd to leave was a poor decision from the shareholders’ point of view 2. Should managers be required to behave ethically even if their actions do not directly affect the company How does HP expect its employees to behave 3. The case suggests that the “HP Way” may no longer be relevant today for HP. What is the “HP Way” Do you think any company can operate successfully today based on similar values 4. Who should be responsible for setting and upholding the ethical culture of a company How can a company ensure that such a culture is practised on a daytoday basis 5. Based on the events that have transpired, did Mark Hurd deserve the severance package he received Why do you think the board gave him such a generous severance package 6. Do you think that HP was justified in forcing Mark Hurd to resign 181HP: The Mark Hurd Saga Endnotes: 1 HP. “HP Interactive Timeline”, 2011. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/ histnfacts/timeline/, accessed on 13 December 2011. 2 Burrows, Peter. “Hewlett Packard: Architects Of The Info Age”, 29 March 2004. Bloomberg Businessweek. 13 December 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/0413/b3876054.htm 3 HP. “Quotes and anecdotes About Bill”, 2011. http://www.hp.com/retiree/history/founders/hewlett/quotes.html, accessed on 13 December 2011. 4 Hardy, Quentin. “HewlettPackard’s Mark Hurd: He Wants it All”, 12 April 2010. Forbes. 13 December 2011. http://www.forbes.com/ forbes/2010/0412/technologyhpmarkhurdibmcisco.html. 5 Lashinsky, Adam. “Mark Hurd’s Moment”, 3 March 2009. CNNMoney. 13 December 2011. http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/27/news/companies/ lashinskyhurd.fortune/index.htm. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Robertson, Jordon. “HP CEO Mark Hurd Resigns After SexualHarassment Problem”, 6 August 2010. Huff Post Tech. 13 December 2011. http://www. huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/06/hpceomarkhurdresignsn673858.html 9 Thomson StreetEvents. “HPQ – HewlettPackard Organizational Announcement Conference Call”, 6 August 2010. Thomson Reuters. 13 December 2011. http://phx.corporateir.net/External.Fileitem=UGFyZ W50SUQ9NTcwNTl8Q2hpbGRJRD0tMXxUeXBlPTM=t=1 10 Thomson StreetEvents. “HPQ – HewlettPackard Organizational Announcement Conference Call”, 6 August 2010. http://phx.corporateir.net/External.Fileitem=UGFyZW50SUQ9NTcwNTl8Q 2hpbGRJRD0tMXxUeXBlPTM=t=1, accessed on 13 December 2011. 11 Hartenstein, Meena. “Mark Hurd could get 40M severance; questions swirl about how accuser Jodie Fisher was hired”, 9 August 2010. NY Daily News. 13 December 2011. http://articles.nydailynews.com/20100809/ news/270721651stockmarketsexualharassmentseverance 182HP: The Mark Hurd Saga 12 Oracle. “Oracle Hires Mark Hurd as President”, 6 September 2010. 13 December 2011. http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/170532 13 Abell, John. “Mark Hurd Lands At Oracle, HP Sues (Update II)”, 7 September 2010. Wired.com. 13 December 2011. http://www.wired.com/ epicenter/2010/09/formerhpceomarkhurdlandsonhisfeetatoracle 14 HP. “HP Standards of Business Conduct”, 2011. http://phx.corporateir.net/External.Fileitem=UGFyZW50SUQ9NzkzODJ8 Q2hpbGRJRD0tMXxUeXBlPTM=t=1, accessed on 13 December 2011. 15 Gregory, Sean. “Corporate Scandals: Why HP Had to Oust Mark Hurd”, 10 August 2010. TIME. 13 December 2011. http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2009617,00.html 16 Lacy, Sarah and Mullins, Robert. “What is the HP Way”, 17 March 2002. Business Journal. 13 December 2011. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2002/03/18/story1.html 17 Burrows, Peter and Elgin, Ben. “The UnCarly Unveils His Game Plan”, 27 June 2005. Bloomberg Businessweek. 13 December 2011. http://www. businessweek.com/magazine/content/0526/b3939061mz011.htm 18 Burrows, Peter. “Layoffs, the HP Way”, 19 July 2005. Bloomberg Businessweek. 13 December 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/ technology/content/jul2005/tc200507193461tc119.htm 19 Kessler, Michelle and Hopkins, Jim. “New HP chief makes the best of a bad situation”, 13 September 2006. USA Today. 13 December 2011. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/techinvestor/corporatenews/20060912hp hurdadvantagex.htm 20 Heritage Institute. “HP: Hewlett Packard’s Corporate Governance Woes”, 2011. http://www.heritageinstitute.com/governance/hp/woes1.htm, accessed on 13 December 2011. 21 HP. “Léo Apotheker Named CEO and President of HP”, 30 September 2010. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2010/100930c.html, accessed on 13 December 2011. 22 O’Brien, Terrence. “HP Names Meg Whitman new President and CEO, gives Leo Apotheker the Boot”, 22 September 2011. Engadget. 27 December 2011. http://www.engadget.com/2011/09/22/hpnamesmegwhitmannew ceogivesleoapothekertheboot/ 183MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft Case Overview In February 2008, Microsoft launched an unsolicited bid for Yahoo at US31 per share. With Yahoo’s share price closing at US19.18 the previous day, this represented a 62 per cent premium and seemed like a deal not to be missed. However, Yahoo’s management resisted all of Microsoft’s efforts to take over the company, resulting in Microsoft withdrawing its offer in May 2008. The objective of this case is to allow a discussion of issues such as the role of the board and management in a takeover situation in the US and compare it with the situation in Singapore, the use of antitakeover defences, and whether the takeover benefits shareholders of the acquiring and/or target company. 1 The Drama Unfolds: Sequence of Events On 1 February 2008, Microsoft launched an unsolicited takeover bid for Yahoo, hoping to tap on Yahoo’s search engine and online advertising resources which would allow it to compete more effectively with Google. Microsoft offered to pay US44.6 billion, effectively setting the bid price at US31 per share. This represented a 62 per cent premium over Yahoo’s closing price the previous day. Yahoo’s share price immediately skyrocketed This is the abridged version of a case prepared by Parsley Ong Rui Hua, Hang Yuan Yuan and Chua Bixia under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. The case was developed from published sources solely for class discussion and is not intended to serve as illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Consequently, the interpretations and perspectives in this case are not necessarily those of the organisations named in the case, or any of their directors or employees. This abridged version was prepared by Cheryl Nio Yi Hui under the supervision of Professor Mak Yuen Teen. Copyright © 2012 Mak Yuen Teen and CPA Australia 184MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft In midFebruary 2008, Yahoo formally rejected Microsoft’s offer, claiming that Microsoft had substantially undervalued Yahoo’s shares. Reports 2 had indicated that Yahoo’s minimum asking price was US40 a share . Yahoo cofounder and CEO Jerry Yang was seen by many as the main obstacle to the merger. Under Yang’s leadership, Yahoo had enacted a 3 controversial “poison pill” severance plan and it commenced a search for a white knight investor. With the fall in Microsoft’s own share price as well as to induce Yahoo 4 shareholders to pressure the board to sell , Microsoft raised its offer to US33 per share. However, Yahoo’s board rejected the offer, insisting on 5 no less than US37 a share . On 3 May 2008, Microsoft said it was withdrawing its bid. On the same day, Yahoo’s share price fell to US23 and its share price dropped further to below US20 in the following few months. A number of shareholder lawsuits against Yahoo’s board followed. On 3 June 2008, shareholder activist Carl Icahn joined the fray. Icahn echoed the charges in several lawsuits’ that “Yang’s deep hostility toward Microsoft” and his “defensive and selfinterested conduct” had scuttled the deal. Icahn also told The Wall Street Journal that should his proxy campaign prove successful, he would try to oust Yang, under whom Yahoo’s stock had plummeted from US33.63 a share in October 2007 6 to US26.15 a share, representing a drop of over 22 per cent . Microsoft’s Interest in Yahoo Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer viewed the merger between Microsoft and Yahoo as an opportunity to strengthen Microsoft’s market position in the burgeoning online advertising market, which was at that time dominated by Google. A merger of the two companies would raise the combined entity’s advertising revenues to US4.74 billion. Although this still trailed Google’s 7 US6.12 billion , it would serve as a more solid foothold for Microsoft in the lucrative US40 billion online advertising market over which Google 185MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft currently holds sway. As allies, “Microhoo” would reach 86 per cent of US Internet users and control 59 per cent of the online display advertisement 8 market . Although Microsoft seemed to be offering what looked like an exorbitant premium, especially considering Yahoo’s performance over the years, Microsoft expected to realise synergies that would more than make up for it. A letter from Microsoft’s Ballmer to Yahoo’s board of directors highlighted the benefits that were expected from the merger, including: (1) scale economics, (2) expanded RD capacity, (3) operational efficiencies and 9 (4) emerging user experiences . The merger was also purported to bring about cost savings amounting 10 to US1 billion a year . Microsoft would also be able to leverage on Yahoo’s existing technologies and cut back on some capitalintensive projects such as the building of massive data centres. Though Microsoft initially pursued the deal believing that it would help it enter the lucrative online advertising market, the resistance of the Yahoo board was proving difficult. Many Microsoft shareholders were displeased at the company’s attempt to diversify its business. Whilst diversifying would theoretically reduce risk to Microsoft and, by extension, to its stakeholders, diversification was something its shareholders could potentially do more effectively on their own. The protracted battle with Yahoo eventually took its toll on Microsoft, with its share price falling substantially over the 6 month period following the takeover offer, from US30.45 per share to less than US26 per share. Yahoo’s Resistance In spite of the benefits of the merger and overwhelming positive shareholder sentiment towards the merger, Microsoft’s takeover attempt met with strong resistance from Yahoo executives. Even after Microsoft sweetened the deal by raising its offer to 33 per share, Yahoo executives insisted on a minimum asking price of 37 per share, which was viewed 186MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft as being absurdly high. Given that the 52week high at that point in time was 33.63, an offer of 37 would represent a 93 per cent premium over Yahoo’s closing price as at 31 Jan 2008 (19.18). They went on to enact 11 a controversial severance plan and pursued alternative tieups with 12 Google and AOL in an effort to put a stop to the takeover by Microsoft. Yahoo executives cited regulatory hurdles, pricing and strategic issues, undervaluation of Yahoo, and the loss of human capital and impact on employee morale in defence of their actions. CEO Jerry Yang expressed concerns over potential regulatory hurdles that could delay or even squash the merger with Microsoft, leaving Yahoo high and dry should they agree to the deal and move toward it, only to subsequently have it fall through. The pricing of the deal was also of concern to Yahoo executives. Microsoft’s original bid was half cash and half stock. As Microsoft’s share price dropped with the announcement of the takeover bid, so too did the value of the deal. Yahoo was also wary of being acquired by a much larger firm with little relevant expertise in its field. Despite its poor 13 recent performance, Yahoo continued to remain profitable . The same, 14 however, could not be said for Microsoft’s lossmaking internet division and comparatively low share of search queries (9.9 per cent compared 15 to Yahoo’s share of 16.3 per cent in April 2009) . Another disincentive for Yahoo to agree to the merger is the perceived undervaluation by Microsoft, as vehemently argued by CEO Jerry Yang. Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst with financialservices firm Collins Stewart, estimated that if Microsoft paid US15 billion for Yahoo’s search operation and US3 billion a year to run ads on Yahoo Web pages, such a deal could add up to US9 a share to Yahoo’s stock price – well north 16 of Microsoft’s last offer of US33 a share . Concerns about lowered employee morale and the loss of human capital were also cited, as a merger with Microsoft would undoubtedly see a large reduction in Yahoo’s workforce as similar projects and departments were combined. 187MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft On a more personal note, CEO Jerry Yang’s emotional attachment to the company he cofounded, his deepseated hatred of Microsoft, and even 17 perhaps his hope to establish his legacy as an Internet visionary , also played a part in the decision to rebuff Microsoft’s takeover attempt. The Reaction of Yahoo Shareholders In light of Yahoo’s recent poor performance, many shareholders saw Microsoft’s offer as a good way to cash out on their investment, and thus were baffled by Yahoo executives’ continued resistance to accepting the offer. In the wake of the failed merger attempt, many shareholders filed lawsuits 18 against Yahoo for breach of fiduciary duties . In mid2008, Carl Icahn, who held about 5 per cent of Yahoo stock, initiated a proxy fight to unseat all of the existing board of directors. However, even in light of perceived executive incompetence, diminishing shareholder value and widespread shareholder dissent, it is often difficult to replace the board of directors in a large public company like Yahoo. With one of Yahoo’s largest and most influential shareholders backing the existing board, Mr Icahn finally dropped his proxy bid in July 2008 in exchange for three seats on Yahoo’s expanded board, not having been able to achieve his initial goals. Looking Forward… In November 2008, Yahoo announced it had begun a search to replace 19 cofounder Jerry Yang as chief executive . In January 2009, Carol Bartz 20 was named CEO . Yahoo and Microsoft subsequently reopened talks 21 and inked a partnership in internet search and advertising in July 2009 . Yahoo’s performance continued to deteriorate, however, with revenues 22 decreasing year on year , cumulating in the firing of Carol Bartz, with 23 CFO Tim Morse stepping in as interim chief in September 2011. Since October 2011, there have been talks of certain groups of private 24 equity firms looking to buy out Yahoo . In November 2011, it was reported that Microsoft had renewed its interest in Yahoo. 188MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft On 4 January 2012, Scott Thompson, the President of PayPal, was 25 named as the chief executive of Yahoo. This was soon followed by the 26 departure of Jerry Yang from Yahoo’s board on 17 January. Analysts said that Yang’s departure might speed up discussions to sell Yahoo’s prized assets, in particular, its 40 per cent stake in Alibaba and its investment in Yahoo Japan. Whether or not any deal pans out remains to be seen. Discussion Questions 1. Did Yahoo’s management and board act in the best interest of shareholders when rejecting Microsoft’s takeover offer 2. Discuss the actions taken by Yahoo’s management and board to block the takeover by Microsoft. Should such actions be prohibited 3. In your opinion, do you believe that the offer by Microsoft is good for (a) the shareholders of Yahoo, and (b) the shareholders of Microsoft 4. What are some of the key differences in rules governing takeovers between the US and Singapore 5. Place yourself in Carl Icahn’s shoes. What are some of the difficulties a minority shareholder faces when dealing with a board like Yahoo’s Are these difficulties similar in Singapore 189MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft Endnotes: 1 Perez, Juan Carlos and Montalbano, Elizabeth. “Timeline: Microsoft’s Pursuit of Yahoo”, 15 May 2008. ComputerWorldUK. 11 December 2011. http://www.computerworlduk.com/indepth/itbusiness /1393/timelinemicrosoftspursuitofyahoo/ 2 Strott, Elizabeth. “Yahoo says no to Microsoft”, 11 February 2008. MSNMoney. 11 December 2011. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/ Investing/Dispatch/YahooSaysNoToMicrosoft.aspx 3 McDougall, Paul. “Yahoo Beefs Up Employee Severance Plan as Microsoft Takeover Looms”, 20 February 2008. InformationWeek. 11 December 2011. http://www.informationweek.com/news/206800859 4 Blodget, Henry. “Microsoft Raises Yahoo Offer to 3233 Through WSJ”, 30 April 2008. Business Insider. 28 December 2011. http://articles. businessinsider.com/20080430/tech/300252251yahooshareholders chiefexecutivesteveballmermicrosoftdirectors 5 Helft, Miguel; Sorkin, Andrew Ross. “Microsoft Withdraws Bid for Yahoo”, 4 May 2008. The New York Times. 11 December 2011. http://www.nytimes. com/2008/05/04/technology/04soft.htmlpagewanted=all 6 Hof, Robert. “Why Yahoo’s Yang is Holding Out”, 3 June 2008. Bloomberg Businessweek. 11 December 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/ technology/content/jun2008/tc2008063964763.htm 7 Acohido, Byron; Swartz, Jon. “Microsoft, Yahoo face many hurdles to successful merger”, 4 February 2008. USA Today. 11 December 2011. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/techinvestor/corporatenews/20080201 microsoftyahoocoverN.htm 8 Foremski, Tom.”MSFT+YHOO=15 of all time spent on Internet”, 1 February 2008. ZDNet. 11 December 2011. http://www.zdnet.com/blog/ foremski/msftyhoo15ofalltimespentoninternet/237 9 Ballmer, Steve. “Steve Ballmer Letter to Yahoo board of directors”, 31 January 2008. Microsoft News Centre. 11 December 2011. http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/misc/0131ballmerletter.mspx 10 Microsoft. “Microsoft Proposes Acquisition of Yahoo for 31 per Share”, 1 February 2008. http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/ feb08/0201CorpNewsPR.mspxrssfdn=Press20Releases, accessed on 21 December 2011. 190MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft 11 Yahoo. “ Form 8K Current Report”, 19 February 2008. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 11 December 2011. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/ edgar/data/1011006/000089161808000104/f38228e8vk.htm 12 Karnitsching, Matthew; Delaney, Kevin and Marr, Merissa. “News Corp., AOL Pursue Yahoo Deals”, 10 April 2008. The Wall Street Journal. 21 December 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120776803032602423. html 13 “Yahoo Inc. Income Statement”, N.D. MSN Money. 11 December 2011. http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/invsub/results/statemnt. aspxsymbol=YHOO 14 Yarrow, Jay. “Microsoft Burns Another 728 Million Online”, 21 July 2011. Business Insider. 11 December 2011.http://articles.businessinsider. com/20110721/tech/300847611microsoftonlinedivisionburns 15 “Top 10 Search Providers for April 2009 (U.S.)”, 15 May 2009. Nielsen Online. 11 December 2011. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online mobile/top10searchprovidersforapril2009us/ 16 Hof, Robert. “Why Yahoo’s Yang is Holding Out”, 3 June 2008. Bloomberg Businessweek. 11 December 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/ technology/content/jun2008/tc2008063964763.htm 17 Hof, Robert. “Why Yahoo’s Yang is Holding Out”, 3 June 2008. Bloomberg Businessweek. 11 December 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/ technology/content/jun2008/tc2008063964763.htm 18 Yahoo Inc. Yahoo Annual Report 2008, p102104, N.D. Accessed on 11 December 2011 19 Shankland, Stephen. “Yahoo CEO Yang to Step Down”, 18 November 2008. ZDNet. 11 December 2011. http://www.zdnetasia.com/yahooceoyangtostepdown62048352.htm 20 Hof, Rob. “Confirmed: Carol Bartz Named Yahoo CEO: Can She Turn it Around”, 13 January 2009. Bloomberg Businessweek. 21 December 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/thethread/techbeat/archives/2009/01/ carolbartzto.html 21 “YahooMicrosoft Deal”, 30 July 2009. The New York Times. 21 December 2011. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/yahooinc/ yahoomicrosoftdeal/index.html 191MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft 22 Yahoo Inc. Yahoo Annual Report 2010, p. 60, N.D. Accessed on 21 December 2011. 23 Oreskovic, Alexei and Chan, Edwin. “Yahoo CEO Bartz Fired Over the Phone, Rocky Run Ends”, 7 September 2011. Reuters. 21 December 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/07/usyahooceoidUSTRE 7857R320110907 24 “One Last Yahoo”, 22 October 2011. Businessworld. 11 December 2011. http://www.businessworld.in/businessworld/content/OneLastYahoo.html 25 “Yahoo names PayPal’s Thompson as CEO”, 4 January 2012. Reuters. 26 January 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/04/usyahoo idUSTRE8030G820120104 26 “Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang resigns”, 17 January 2012. Reuters. 26 January 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/17/usyahoo idUSTRE80G28120120117 192MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft About the Editor Mak Yuen Teen was founding director of the Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting Centre (CGFRC) and Associate Professor of Accounting at the NUS Business School at the National University of Singapore. He holds an First Class Honours and Master degree in accounting and finance and a PhD in accounting, and is also a fellow of CPA Australia. Prof Mak is a member of the OECD Asian Corporate Governance Roundtable. He has served on key corporate governance committees involved in developing and revising codes of governance in both the corporate and charity sectors in Singapore and chaired the subcommittee which developed and revised the code of governance for charities. He cochaired the Singapore Corporate Governance Awards between 2003 and 2009 and is currently a member of the selection committee for the Malaysian Corporate Governance Index and Awards. Prof Mak developed the Governance and Transparency Index (GTI) which rates the corporate governance of listed companies in Singapore. He is currently involved in an initiative driven by regional regulators to develop a corporate governance scorecard and ranking of large listed companies in ASEAN. His report on improving the implementation of corporate governance practices in Singapore, commissioned by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore Exchange, was published in June 2007. His book “From Conformance to Performance: Best Corporate Governance Practices for Asian Companies” was published by McGrawHill in 2005. He was also recently commissioned to write a primer on governance for social enterprrises in Singapore. 193MicroHoo: The Attempted Takeover of Yahoo By Microsoft Singapore 1 Raffles Place 3101 One Raffles Place Singapore 048616 +65 6671 6500 sgcpaaustralia.com.au cpaaustralia.com.au 194
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