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Singapore’s top developer woes grow over China investment

·2-min read
(Source: City Developments Ltd)
(Source: City Developments Ltd)

By Faris Mokhtar

(Bloomberg) -- The internal woes of Singapore’s second-largest listed developer, City Developments Ltd., continued to escalate after a second board member resigned over disagreements on an investment in China.

Koh Thiam Hock stepped down from his position as an independent non-executive director at the firm, according to a Singapore Exchange filing on Tuesday. While the company did not specify the reasons for his departure, it said that Koh quit from his post after sharing his “observations, concerns and suggestions” on the firm’s investment in Chinese developer Sincere Property Group.

He is the second board member to quit after Kwek Leng Peck, a second-generation scion of the family that controls City Developments, departed in October over disagreements on the same investment. At stake is the unity of a family dynasty worth US$16.5 billion, according to this year’s Bloomberg Billionaires Index list of Asia’s richest clans. The resignations could become a distraction at a time when the company’s operations have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

CDL appointed a new board director, Carol Fong, group chief executive of CGS-CIMB Securities. It also tweaked the board composition and appointed new members to some board committees.

Fong is now a member of the remuneration committee. Chong Yoon Chou, who’s led the equity investment team at Aberdeen Asset Management and helped manage some US$380 billion in funds at Ostrum Asset Management Asia, was appointed as a member of CDL’s audit and risk committee.

CDL’s chief executive officer Sherman Kwek, son of its chairman Kwek Leng Beng, was appointed as a member of the board committee.

A developer of residential, retail, office and hotel properties, Sincere agreed to let City Developments take a joint controlling interest of about 51% for S$880 million in April.

The move expanded City Developments’ presence in China to 20 cities from three, lifting the proportion of its portfolio allocation in the country to 15% from 9%.

Koh was appointed to the position in 2016. He had decades of experience in Bank of America’s operations in Singapore, where he dealt with compliance.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.