Often Partisan

Some Thoughts on Pannu’s Promotion and the Censure

It was a busy day for Birmingham International Holdings yesterday, with announcements that Peter Pannu was to become the new CEO and MD of the company as well as an executive director, along with a preceding announcement that various directors and ex-directors of the company were censured for breaking listing rules in 2009.

It’s caused some confusion on the web with various news sources reporting the news incorrectly so I’ve collated what I can to try to ensure people get an accurate representation of events As ever, I will do my best to say when I am stating fact and when I am stating my opinion – which is of course my opinion and no-one elses.

Peter Pannu has been appointed CEO and MD of Birmingham International Holdings, as well as an executive director as of 19 September. Contrary to the BBC report on the matter, this doesn’t mean that he has “taken control of the club”. Pannu’s role at BCFC has not changed – he is still “acting” chairman and all this new role means is that he has now taken a similar position within BIH.

This doesn’t mean Carson has been forced aside; Carson remains the biggest shareholder in BIH (and thus BCFC) and President of both BIH and BCFC. The easiest way to understand the way the roles work is to use an analogy. HM Queen Elizabeth II is head of state as Queen – ie she’s the boss – but she doesn’t run the country. That job is left to David Cameron in his capacity as Prime Minister. In much the same way, Carson is the top dog as President but the day-to-day running of the company will fall mainly on the shoulders of Peter Pannu.

What does this mean for BCFC?

In the short-term this is good news. Peter Pannu has always been hamstrung by the lack of power he had over BIH and with this appointment he now has that power. Whilst neither BIH nor BCFC have openly indicated that the club is for sale the fact remains that if someone came in with enough cash it would be relinquished. It is my belief that if anyone is drive the sale of the club it would be Mr Pannu and his appointment within BIH will help expedite that further.

There have been rumours that I cannot get confirmed that Carson and the previous CEO Vico Hui had fallen out. Thus the  appointment of Peter Pannu will ensure that a man who Carson trusts implicitly is now back in the role. It’s worth noting that when Carson made his unsuccessful appeal against his bail conditions to pay respects at his father’s funeral in Shenzhen the person who was willing to put his £1million house up as surety was Peter Pannu – which to me shows the level of trust and respect they have for one another.

However, as pointed out by a commenter on this website, Aussiebrum, in the medium to long-term the lack of any independent directors at BCFC (as all now have connections to BIH, either directly or indirectly) mean that there is no checks or balance in the way that Mr Pannu questioned the actions of Vico Hui. That is not healthy and if there is to be any longer-term future with BIH I would hope BCFC would appoint a non-BIH based director.

Does this mean a takeover is happening soon?

The simple answer to that question is that we do not know. Any interested parties would have to agree a figure with Carson – which appears to be a massive stumbling block at present – and it’s my belief that the impending trial may be causing some parties to hold off whilst they see what happens in the courts. It would make sense to hang fire whilst there is a legal mess to be sorted out if only to secure a distress price for the club.

What about the censure?

The other piece of news that was announced to the Stock Exchange refers to the censuring of various directors over a rule breach dating back to 2009.

There are a few things to take from this, and again there has been some confusion within the reporting of this matter. Of the twelve directors who have either been censured or criticised, only six remain directors with the company. Of the main six who have been censured, only two are still directors with the company (Carson Yeung and Pauline Wong).

It must be stressed, contrary to reports elsewhere that the appointment of Peter Pannu is not connected at all to this censuring – the timing of the announcements being coincidental.

From my understanding the offence is a technical one; firstly that when Grandtop (as was) placed the deposit money for the takeover of the club into an escrow account that they should have gained shareholder approval as the amount of money concerned was around a third of Grandtop’s assets; secondly that Carson shouldn’t have bought any shares in a period during the takeover and before the accounts were released as he had undisclosed financially sensitive information to his knowledge and that thirdly that none of the other directors did anything to stop these rule breaches.

The severity of the offences is reflected in the punishments; accredited training courses for the directors involved with certification to be presented to the HKSE to prove that the courses have been undertaken, and the appointment of an independent Compliance advisor for two years to ensure that they’re doing their jobs properly, along with a public naming and shaming in the announcement.

It’s the second time that the board of BIH have been found to have broken the rules in recent months after the company was fined for the late notification of the resignation of two director in August.

I will admit I am intrigued by the forcing of an Independent Compliance Advisor on BIH. I wonder if this means that if there is to be a sale of BCFC then there is the possibility of a better chance of it being done properly, and by the book. That being said, I can’t see it forcing the issue of the overdue accounts to be produced any time soon.

Naturally, this has all been reported with mirth at Carson’s expense in the Chinese Language press in Hong Kong, further damaging his reputation. It’s my hope that this continual pressure along with the upcoming court cases finally force his hand and that he lets go. I’m not ungrateful for the good things that Carson has bought to the club but it’s my belief that his ownership has now run it’s course and I hope that he will find it within himself to let go with what dignity he has left before things get even worse.

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27 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Pannu’s Promotion and the Censure”

  • KiwiJohn says:

    Great piece Al. Very informative. What do you do in your spare time?! Keep it up. KRO

  • ChrisG says:

    At the end of the day, the message to all Bluenoses is, be patient, stop worrying & speculating, & let’s just see what happens. I’ve seen far too many posts on different forums from the miserable doom mongers blaming the situation at the club as a reason or should I say “excuse” for not going to games. Who would be interested in buying a club with some of the lowest home gates in the Championship?, if these so called supporters really do want to see change at the club they need to start making us look a bit more of a decent financial proposition by getting behing the team. KRO

  • 1950mike says:

    Hi, just a small point, I understood that Mr Pannu became Chairman of BCFC after Vico Hui had resigned from both BIH and BCFC.

    • almajir says:

      I’ve not seen any physical confirmation that Pannu has dropped the “Acting” from his title yet. it might be that I’ve missed it but as far as I know he still only Acting Chairman

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    But bigger crowds would mean they’d have an issue with parking around the ground and how long it would take them to get home.

    • big frank says:

      They should do what i do, travel by train to new st or moor st then walk to the ground on foot. kro

      • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

        Trains too packed/smelly/unreliable/expensive

        Walk? You mad.

        They’ll always have an excuse mate,

        • James says:

          Coupled with the cold/non-premiership status/economic climate/terrible football – who can blame them Paul???

          • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

            Certainly not me, god knows how the filth can treble our attendances.

          • bluenoseneil says:

            Well if you believe other posters on OP they would have you believe that most of our fan base is working class and live within spitting distance of Stans. No smelly trains or buses needed. No expensive cars. Just Shanks’ Pony for the faithful, eh?

            It strikes me that 15,000 gate is happening more because we have tight-fisted fair weather fans who can piggy back off a trip out to see Man Utd/Chelsea/Liverpool/Man City etc so that they can humour their kids who get bullied at school if they don’t support a Top 6 Premier League team….all the while sitting there in The Kop moaning about the crap turn out.

            I myself live over 200 miles away and Dad (lifelong supporter of 60+ years) and I bust our asses to get to as many games as we can, including Away fixtures.

            It strikes me that we have been filling Stans in recent memory with fans who don’t actually support the club in a true way, which is a shame if its true.

            If pockets are being hit I DO get that but I am not so sure that’s the whole truth….people flock to a spectacle and if it ain’t United, City or Villa there’s a lot of people out there who clearly are not even close to giving a toss.

            Those of you there every week: my hat goes off to you and I am (understandably) jealous. I am working on the wife to move to the Midlands it you may have to wait to see Elvis fly over Stans on the back of a golden swan first. Hey ho..


      • chris says:

        why don’t you go top bordesley station instead of moor st?

  • Kaje says:

    Super piece as always, but I’d pick up on…

    “However, as pointed out by a commenter on this website, Aussiebrum, in the medium to long-term the lack of any independent directors at BCFC (as all now have connections to BIH, either directly or indirectly) mean that there is no checks or balance in the way that Mr Pannu questioned the actions of Vico Hui. That is not healthy and if there is to be any longer-term future with BIH I would hope BCFC would appoint a non-BIH based director.”

    I think that’s a little unfair, as we simply do not know whether Peter Pannu had anything to say to Hui at the time or following the incident.

    For all we know, Hui’s resignation could have been as a result of Peter Pannu investigating and outing Hui for his alleged offences (with regards to our finances etc.).

    We just do not know.

    • almajir says:

      Kaje – Pannu was the person who brought it to the attention of the auditors. At the time of the signing of the Xtep deal Pannu wasn’t a director so he may well not have not fully known what was happening. The demonstrable fact remains that Pannu was the one who forced the issue into the open.

  • I think Chris G is right. As fans we just have to wait and see. All we can do is go to the ground on match days and get behind whatever team is sent out onto the pitch to represent the name of Birmingham City Football Club. Staying away on the grounds you don’t like the manager, the owner, the bloke who comes on with the magic sponge is a load of old tosh. St Andrews ain’t the same with only 15,000 or so inside it and we look a bunch of idiots in the eyes of visiting supporters who are in an easier position to out chant and out sing us on our own turf; unthinkable in times gone by. Cheer up fellow noses; there is an end to this nightmare but we don’t have to be part of it if we don’t choose to. KRO SOTV

  • Aussiebrum says:

    If BCFC isn’t sold quickly it really is imperative there are independent directors appointed.

    A stumbling block could be the fact they can’t attract qualified, experienced company directors to join the board with the company in such a state of flux.

    So many variables but lets just hope we witness a quick trade sale so we can all focus on football rather than all this other messy business.

  • South_Coast_Blue says:

    Another great read Almajir, looking at some of the comments, would you be ineterested in discovering what Blues intend to do about the poor attendances at St Andrews and report back?

    if we are operating as a going concern, surely our dwindling attendances and therefore gate receipts are or will cause the club real problems. Less bums on seats, also means less vendor and mechandising receipts for the club as well.

    It would be nice if we could rediscover a “jumping” St Andrews! KRO

  • RVH1T says:

    Great work again. Never underestimate the importance of “face” in all dealings Chinese. Pannu, not being Chinese, can hopefully deal with issues such as a sale more objectively. One has to say that the FA has a lot to answer for allowing these sort of shenanigans. Where is there “due diligence” in the buying and selling of football clubs?

  • chris says:

    Could the prospective buyers have complained to HKSE about suspicious things they may have found in the accounts etc during due diligence, thus leading to the enforcement of the Independent Compliance Advisor on BIH?

  • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

    Well-balanced piece Almajir.

    I do not believe that having an independent director at BCFC is upper-most in the minds of CY or PP at this stage if they are ready to sell the club. The interesting point you make is, that if somehow there was to be a longer-term future for BIHL and BCFC, then it would be imperative to appoint someone. Obviously if this happens then the chances are they are not ready to go yet. Even if they did, what are the chances they would go for someone from the Far East as oppose to someone nearer to home??

    Just hope that if we are to see new owners then PP and CY try and take care of our interests as well as theirs. The last thing we need is yet more upheaval and opaque owners with puzzling ways of doing things.

    One thing is for sure, PP is a true trouble-shooter who rarely comes off second best in a contest. Maybe he is now at BIHL to carry out a salvaging task at best. If they can get £30m – £10m for the club and £20 odd for the club debt to CY/BIHL from any prospective sale, then he’ll have done his duty. Truly cannot see anyone paying anymore than that realistically. Like this blog has stated, some may even wait and see what the fall-out from the trial may be and then chance it with a nominal offer. Not to the benefit of the club. Could be drawn-out, complex and quite hostile.

    Maybe PP will now pave the way at BIHL for a quick sale to this mysterious Asian group that have been hovering around in the background. There are so many scenarios floating around – mostly worrying ones, that we should really try and focus on our team’s performances, because regardless of what is said and done, we have a very good Championship squad who can achieve promotion this season if we create a proper settled pattern. And the signs are there for all to view.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    ALMAJIR, !!!.

    With all the speculation regarding possible prospective bidders for our club sometime in the near future. I am aware that ” cards will be kept close to ones chest “, !!.

    Talk of an Aisan owner is a little worrying after our flirtation with Carson Yueng, !!. I do believe his original intetions wre hounarable, but their ways of working have caused all this worrying situation, !!.

    Do you think that the term Asian, — may include Indian owners, ?. I am aware that this is pure speculation, — but thoughts of Mital,!!. spring to mind,?.

  • Paulo says:

    Top research Almajir, and appreciated. I only hope now that PP’s other job in BIHL (combined with his current role at BCFC) means that a possible takeover will be done ‘above board’ and the chances of us being short changed may now be quite slim. It’s good for us in the short term, but that’s what it needs to be ..short term. If CY does not sell by the end of this season, then my gut feeling is we will be in serious trouble – financially and even more tied into BIHL like a bloody spiders web.
    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out we need ownership and investment (in the right places) very soon. But please let it be a decent one.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Your last paragraph Paulo, sums up all our feelings, — me thinks.

      Whoever, !!. takes over in some future time, I would prefer that they re-built us from the ground-up, even if that means NO spectacular investment in ” high priced ” [ even higher paid players ], but instead followed the David Moyes, [ Everton ] model, !!!!!!!!!!.

      • Paulo says:

        Yes, I agree, I have always had hope (and a wish) that the leagues were ‘capped’ in regards to players wages, league by league respectively, and also tv commisions were not the basis of income …i mean, no one should be given a mortage based on overtime ..just basic wage, so why the hell are clubs throwing good money to simply have a status of £million pound players?
        I just hope investment is spent at the club and on the club, because we are the ones that will be spending our hard earned wages on tickets, food, drink, programmes and in the shop as well. Isn’t it only fair that the fans are considered in all this current mess?

  • andy says:

    Thanks great stuff almajir. I like the way u put it in laymans terms for people with reference to the Queen and Cameron.

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