Often Partisan

Who is Paul Suen Cho Hung?

Last week, it was revealed on this website that Chinese businessman Paul Suen Cho Hung is one of the men behind Trillion Trophy Asia – the company who are locked into a two year exclusivity agreement with Birmingham International Holdings. That revelation has of course caused many people to ask questions of who he is and what is aims are – something I aim to try to resolve with this article.

Before I go any further I have to include a standard caveat: Until an announcement is made to the HKSE with respect to ownership of Trillion Trophy Asia, I am working on the assumption only that Mr Suen is the/one of the parties involved with TTA based on documentation lodged with Companies House – ie a mortgage document between BCFC and Trillion Trophy Asia which confirms Mr Suen’s name.

As always, I’ve linked information where I can to properly cite facts stated in this article.

So who is this guy? What’s his motivation?

Paul Suen Cho Hung is a 53 year old Chinese Businessman, educated in Australia. He is currently Chairman of Enviro Energy International Holdings Ltd (HK:1102), a position he has held since June 8 this year. He has also been Chairman of BEP International Holdings Ltd (HK:2326, Aug 2009 – Jan 2014); Hailing International Holdings Ltd (formerly known as Sunlink International Holdings Ltd, HK:2336, Mar – Sep 2014); Huajun Holdings Ltd (formerly known as New Island Printing Holdings Ltd, HK:337, Sep 2012 – Sep 2014); and Mission Capital Holdings Ltd (formerly known Poly Capital Holdings Ltd, HK:1141, Nov 2007 – March 2015). He has been a significant shareholder in each of these businesses among others.

A full list of his positions held is available here; a full list of his reportable shareholding deals is available here.

Mr Suen is known for his competence in dealing with “distressed stocks”. These are companies that have issues with finance and/or governance and require restructuring to satisfy HKSE regulations.

Well, that description fits BIHL doesn’t it?

It’s my belief Mr Suen is involved with BIH precisely for this reason – that he has dealt with distressed stocks before and he sees a way to get BIH restructured, sold on – and a nice profit for himself.

I like to look at past performance to understand this sort of thing and I think it’s best illustrated with a company called Sunlink International Holdings. Sunlink were put into provisional liquidation in December 2008 due to winding up petitions being filed against them. The liquidators appointed were Stephen Liu Yiu Keung and David Yen Ching Wai of Ernst and Young – the same people who are acting as Receivers for BIH.

The situation was messy. In May 2009, Paul Suen entered into an exclusivity agreement lasting 12 months to help the company sort out a resumption of trading in it’s shares with Suen loaning the company money, money placed in escrow to insure creditors against the possibility of the restructuring going flat and interestingly HK$5million invested going towards the fees racked up by EY.

The chairman of Sunlink, Andy Wong Shu Wing, was the only executive director not to resign. He was also a major shareholder, with a 32% stake in the company. He held out until March 2010 when he was forced to resign after not being able to produce the books for the company. To quote the announcement of those results to the HKSE:

The Provisional Liquidators were also verbally advised by certain former staff of the Group that prior to the appointment of the Provisional Liquidators, some of the relevant books and records of the Group had been transferred to a warehouse located in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) which was subsequently on fire.”

It took until November 2010 and a high court decision to stop Wong from being able vote his shares, allowing a restructuring to go through just before the company was due to be kicked off the exchange and in March 2013, Wong was disbarred from holding a directorship for five years. In the mean time Suen and Sunlink were able to complete the restructuring process, which saw a Chinese company reverse their interests into Sunlink and Suen walked away in April 2014, having sold his shares for a neat profit.

What we can learn from that is that these kinds of situations are messy – but they can be dealt with. Sunlink had an intransigent chairman and owner but EY managed to force him out in the end and prevent him from being able to stop any changes; it’s my hope they can do the same with Carson. Even though the books had been destroyed, they were able to sort out the finances – BIH aren’t quite in that situation but there were issues with alleged misappropriations along with rumours of computer equipment being destroyed in the head offices before EY came in and again, I think that can be dealt with.

The key I think is about time – it’s not going to be quick. If you look at the above example it took between December 2008 and February 2012 to fix it and while I don’t think BIHL will take that long I think anyone hoping for a complete revamp by the end of this season may be out of luck.

That’s terrible news? Isn’t it?

It depends. If you were hoping for billionaire owners before Christmas, no that’s not going to happen – but then again I don’t think it ever was. BIH is an absolute mess – issues with shareholders, loans, shares, intransigent former directors and employers – and I think that anyone who comes in would have had their work cut out to sort it out.

If we see TTA as potential caretakers; the people who come in and clear the mess up, keep the club running with injections of cash (as we’ve seen already) and sort out BIH until someone else comes into either take the club on itself or invest in the holding company and sell the club on to someone else who wants it – then I don’t think that’s such a bad thing at all. It could be that a couple of years down the line with the club having had a little investment and having been run properly that it’s an even more attractive proposition for someone to buy – and rather than groups of people looking to buy it cheap and then “flip” it we’ll see people come in who are looking to buy it long term.

I’ve spoken about patience a lot – and I can understand for many people it’s wearing thin but if the club can keep hold of players (Panos spoke in the programme notes on Saturday about no more fire sales) then maybe it won’t be so bad. If the team keeps performing, players come in and improve the side then who cares if the Hong Kong stuff drags on? It’s like I said on Friday – the better Blues play on the pitch the easier it will be to forget that the ownership situation is a bit of a basket case.

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56 Responses to “Who is Paul Suen Cho Hung?”

  • Big Al says:

    Great article. If there is one positive to come out of all the mess, we are now a reasonably well-run club. We do not need to fear debt and disaster in the same way teams like Bolton & Leeds do. Would be nice to see Cotterill sign on the dotted line now.

  • ChrisG says:

    I’m with you Dan on your last paragraph, you’ve been saying for ages that this will be a long drawn out affair, but it looks like the right people are in place to sort out the mess that is BIH.
    We had a good result on saturday though we certainly rode our luck & stans was buzzing. KRO

  • Steverob says:

    Great research as usual, Daniel. It puts the Club’s perspective firmly into the sort of territory described in your penultimate paragraph. There are many frustrations involved but the crucial thing for me now is that all the right people are involved, at every level.
    Let’s realise though that while all this is progressing, we still have limited clout and are probably rightfully a middle of the table club at best. That’s not to say that we can’t try to over-achieve.
    I think the fans are in that tunnel, can see the light and, of course, will keep right on to the end.

  • rhees says:

    Its all positive really better to be sorted properly than a quick fix
    Kro up the table I say

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Very informative article Dan. I feel it is positive news, because EYand Mr Suen have faced this situation before at least once with Sunlink. So any problems/mistakes made then will be learnt from, making BIH’s takeover hopefully smoother.
    It also looks as if Mr Suen is only in it for the short term to put BIH back on its feet, take a profit on the sale and move on. Nothing wrong in that in my opinion.

  • Mezz says:

    I feel they will need to put more money in than they currently have. We cannot afford to go down everyone knows that and the worry is we “stay still” that is something we have to avoid at all costs because that ends one way you end up going down! To be honest I’ve stopped caring about the ownership saga as it just depresses me. It’s a complete joke and should have been sorted out years ago!

  • Tony E says:

    Thanks for the update, very interesting. As this guy has a history of sorting out this kind of mess I hope he can successfully with E and Y move the club forward and then for new, proper owners to take the reins.

  • Dave Gibson says:

    I’ll bet you a fiver the Birmingham Mail bring out an article tomorrow quoting most of the above that Dan has put together, useless they are!!

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Well done Dan. Now that he appears to be above board we should leave him to it.

    • almajir says:

      I wasn’t aware we were stopping him from doing anything in the first place Julian?

      If you mean not reporting on it – then again, you’re wrong. Reporting on what is happening isn’t affecting it – it just means people are more likely to understand, which is a good thing…

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        Jesus you’re tetchy. I’m merely suggested we don’t need to do the third degree on him.

        • almajir says:

          Techy? Moi?

          Not tetchy at all Julian, just think you’re incorrect. It’s not about “giving someone the third degree”, it’s about being alert to what is going on – the more we understand, the better for all of us…

          • chris says:

            openness, honesty, integrity is all we ask for from E&Y, BIHL, Football League and BCFC wherever possible considering legal processes, so Dan has done a marvellous job to inform us without breaking any rules.

      • Barny Blue says:

        I for one understand things much more clearly – thanks for you efforts once again Dan!

  • WalmleySteve says:

    So it seems this guy is a trouble-shooter looking to make a pile of money further down the line and has no interest in the club as such. The mess has to be cleared up by someone I suppose and they’re not going to do it for free. And we should remember that the injections of cash will all have to be paid back with interest. We’re not ‘out of the woods’ yet by a long chalk would be my observation.

  • For me this is great news, this is the light at the end of the tunnel that we have been waiting for , we have owners that want success admittedly on the cheap , but they want success ,and with GR at the helm and A company that has a record of making ailing companies a success , and just maybe they might want to stay to make a blues a £billion turnover on a man U scale as success breeds success as they rebuild Stan’s , ps : stats say that Spector should make a good centreback , and saturday he believed it , and he was excellant , its time for others to believe , this is your time go for it make it happen , players that play for blues are haunted by the place when they leave , so make it happen here , kro.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Things stabilising off the pitch and a winning start on it so let’s carry on with the positives and move on with a win at Bristol Rovers in the cup tomorrow then looking forward to My trip to Burnley on Saturday morning . Kro

  • PeteBaldwin says:

    It has to be good news. We know this is going to take ages – anyone hoping for this to be done this season is kidding themselves.

    There have been rumours about who TTA are what their intentions are which have understandably got a few people worried however this clears it up. TTA aren’t Carson’s friends, they aren’t only bothered about the HKSE listing and they do know what they are doing. Knowing they have taken on similar projects successfully in the past takes away a huge element of worry for me.

    As things stand, we have a very reputable company in E&Y running the show with an investor who is experienced in sorting out bat-shit crazy companies. We could have still had Pannu in charge with Paladini owning a percentage…….

  • Steve says:

    Hopefully we can keep getting crowds in each match like we had on Saturday. Was brilliant seeing a big crowd and was a better atmosphere. Shame some of the “improvements” and “incentives” have made the matchday experience more stressful though, especially for us hungry wheelchair users down in the GML

  • Adam True Blue says:

    Nice work Dan, i just have a concern as to the Exckusivity Period for TTA, we know from information you provided in an earlier blog, that there were sevreal offers on the table made to E&Y and they decided to go for TTA, doesn’t this seem a little suspicious seeing that they have had similar dealings with E&Y and it would appear they have been given information and preferential treatment not offered to the other interested parties? I smell a backhander but then thats my view! Kro

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      A scurrilous comment Adam :-) E&Y actions can be challenged in court so you can be sure that they’re being scrupulously clean. Dodgy dealing by E&Y employees will finish their careers. It ain’t worth it.

      Sometimes it difficult to a accept good news at face value

      • Adam True Blue says:

        It just seems to be too much of a coincidence, we know there were offers to buy the club that were rebuffed in favour of a previous associate that has no interest in buying a football club and only in the short term profit that can be gained by the HKSE listing, I fail to see how that can be viewed as the best option, I am not saying that it will not get us to where we want to be but I think it will be more expense for the club and will take longer than a more direct route, I also acknowledge that E&Y were brought in to stabilise Bihl but as BCFC constitutes as the majority business of Bihl then it would seem that BCFC’s prosperity should be the major factor here. I am glad that the affairs are being sorted just don’t think that it is being done in our best interest

        • chris says:

          only my opinion but E&Y may have gone down this route because of all the issues at BIHL that Dan mentioned above, as any new potential owner who did make one of these offers may well have walked once they saw the tangled mess.
          this way the mess is cleared up and a stable ready to sell company (BIHL & BCFC) appears and some one can then buy the package with no dirty baggage appearing after they have bought it.
          The last thing we needed was a quick sale followed by court cases etc because it was rushed through and hidden secrets / debt appear later to the new owners.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Maybe ime being a bit techy here but I don’t see less than 20,000 a big crowd for a city like us and a ground that holds 30,000 .. The atmosphere was much better on Saturday but still massive room for improvement .. 3,000 blues fans away make more noise but that’s why I go to away games . Kro

  • Richard Granfield says:

    David Edgar has gone to Sheffield United on a year long loan with no recall.
    Gary’s certain to be in the market for a central defender soon…….My choice?
    Jake Buxton (Bucko) from Derby County.

    • Blue lizard says:

      it’s obvious that Edgar has no future at Blues for whatever reason GR sees fit….. I would rather he was sold and the money used rather than a loan which sees him come back again next season and possibly leave for nothing

      • Richard Granfield says:

        Blue Lizard…..Edgar will not becoming back next season as his contract expires next summer.
        We got him on a “Free” and we save on his wages for this season.

        • Blue Lizard says:

          As I said “possibly leave for nothing”…is it so wrong to try to turn a profit however small on a player whether we got him free or not?

          • Richard Granfield says:

            I don’t want to labour the point but if Edgar’s contract expires next summer, then he will leave for nothing, not possibly, but certainly.
            I agree with you that it would be great if we received a profit on him, but nobody wants to buy him!

          • Shirley Blue says:

            The obvious point to make here is it needs another club to be prepared to pay a fee for him for us to make any profit. Anyway by loaning him out that’s some wages budget released for GR to go and a centre back better than Edgar hopefully. I also would like too see something similar to happen to Eardley, Hancox. Novak and Thomas so we can get another striker good enough for the championship and another left back.

      • chris says:

        Edgar wants to play midfield and GR wants a centre half because Edgar doesn’t see that as his position so get rid.
        Edgar was awfully slow as a midfiled player and i think Huddersfield didn’t play him in midfiled either and they haven’t come back for him which says it all.

  • Dave Mann says:

    A centre half of descent calibre will do for me Richard as it’s getting to a point where we need cover as it’s getting serious .. I hope Wes Harding gets a run out tommorow because he might be needed sooner rather than later , and a striker of donaldsons ilk is also needed then it’s job done for me . Kro

  • Ainsley says:

    Great article as ever. Any news on the lawsuits going on between Ernst and young vs pannu/Carson?

  • MWJBlue says:

    As you know we are resilient and mostly patient supporters, we keep right on but we don’t know where the end of the road is. So this should be easy, hopefully. Thanks.for keeping this clear and simple to understand it is much appreciated…. KRO

  • muzza says:

    to be honest im happy with pano staying in charge. he got rowett in, is giving players new contracts bringing new players in …plus got a good relationship with rowett. and also spends day to day at the club. so fair play to job hes doing.dont think we need a rushed through sale.think things are goin ok as they are

  • Pete says:

    Thanks Dan, will look forward to the regional paper reporting your blog next…..

    Bit harsh again in your response to Julian though.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    Happy that things are moving in right direction but tedious stuff.
    When this guy eventually gets control of BIH he will get the HKSE listing (worth 30 mill) and BCFC as its only asset. If he keeps the club going with a few quid here and there he will sell us off and promote BIH by diversifying into his obvious conections in energy and mining etc and then sell BIH for a tidy profit.
    The only frustrating part of it is the timescales involved as its looking like it’s going to be another couple of years before somebody wants to buy us with the the clubs real interests at heart.At least there is some light at the end of the tunnel now although still a long way to go yet.

  • Blue Steve says:

    If Cotterill signs and we can get a centre back and striker in then you have to say that this has been a very successful pre season. I’m sure GR would not release Edgar if a deal for another CB wasn’t pretty close.

  • I couldn’t see that there was any choice for a quick sort out to oust Carson it would have had to be somebody E&Y trust and somebody used to unraveling problem companies in the area , good luck to them .I think the two year period was for blues benefit more than anybody’s , kro

  • AussieBlue says:

    Yes, a beautifully crafted investigative piece, “Tetchy” Dan. (Reminds me of the great 70s/80s band Steely Dan – anyone old enough to recall?). The most significant aspect for me is the acknowledgement that BIHL is a complete basket case – worse than the worst nightmares of E&Y when they became receivers. This is evidenced by the involvement of Paul Suen and his companies who are ‘last resort’ fixer-uppers. There’s an old saw ‘A drowning man does not care who throws him a rope’. As Dan reports; Suen has thrown ropes to basket case companies several times – always for a good profit of course and mostly in cahoots with E&Y. As Richard Granfield commented ‘nothing wrong with that’ – Suen takes all the risk so deserves a good dividend. But, we should be under no illusions that Paul Suen is a football fan and will sing KRO with us – he’s all business, as the mortgage against our home ground suggests. He’s not a White Knight and BIHL is not a damsel in distress – it’s a tired old shagged-out, worked-over, abused and suspended HKSE company that is on life support.
    I agree with Dan that this tough love will ultimately be good for BCFC and the ‘line in the sand’ between the club and BIHL will eventually become a deep trench so GR and the lads can just focus on football and winning ways. BIHL is indeed a distressed asset and dealing with such is never pretty, but that’s in Hong Kong. We don’t need to be distressed and neither does the club, and I think we have ‘Pavlova’ to thank for that.

  • jan says:

    what a mess they made of our club,thankfully now getting sorted,thank you Dan for all your hard work,and others on this site for trying to make sense of it all. kro

  • Murph says:

    Aussie blue not replied in donkeys but allways reading and mostly informed fans , they see it as is , got to say couldn’t agree any more than what you just wrote , so right and honest opion ! Shame your to honest and knowable to be prime minster lol fair okay n kro murph

  • AussieBlue says:

    Cheers Murph! I think I’d rather turn villa supporter than be a prime minister. Errrrrr….hang on…..

  • John says:

    Great research Dan and, possibly, your best article to date. Keep up the good work – goodness knows how you find the time to carry out such in depth investigation on top of your day job! KRO

  • zxcv says:

    Just spotted this announcement from Enviro Energy Dan and wondered if it might interest you.


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