Often Partisan

We Are Family – Investigating the BIH Shareholders

Blues Trust have revealed earlier this morning that following the fans forum on February 2 that they have made contact with and opened dialogue with BIH shareholders in Hong Kong.

I have spent the last fortnight working in conjunction with the Trust board, talking to high-placed sources in Hong Kong to develop a picture of what is happening with the parent company.

As suspected, it’s not pretty. The impression I have formed based on the information received confirms my suspicions that BIH is a company in the middle of a power struggle – on the one side there is Carson Yeung and Peter Pannu, and their associates and on the other side there are the others, who are gradually being forced out.

One thing we have been able to do is to identify some of the faces behind the names of BIH shareholders. The most prominent of those is a Mr Liu Xingcheng, who currently owns 11.66% of Birmingham International Holdings and thus is the only person other than Carson who qualifies for the owners part of the owners and directors test.

Back on July 12 2012 I tried to find Mr Liu via google and I can now say that I got it wrong. To explain who Mr Liu is requires a look into Carson’s past and to remember the mantra that the Chinese owners brought to the club when they took ownership of it – “We are Family”.

As you may know, I looked into the house in London which Carson owns a few months back and I was able to confirm that it’s still in his name (along with one other), without a mortgage on it or any sign of the asset freeze. The other name mentioned was Zhou Dan – who I (again wrongly) assumed was another man. One of the commenters got it right – Ms Zhou is in fact a lady and as it turns out is one of Carson’s ex-girlfriends.

Zhou Dan has a sister by the name of Zhou Xin. Zhou Xin had an 8.66% stake in BIH (315million shares) until it was bought out by Carson Yeung on April 13 2011, for a price of HK$63million (just over £5mil). Whilst there have been no formal allegations whatsoever there are rumours from the Chinese Mainland that Ms Zhou isn’t happy with this transaction and that further action may be taken on it.

Zhou Xin lives in China itself, in a city called Guangzhou just up the Pearl River from Hong Kong. She lives there with her husband, Liu Xingcheng – who was mentioned earlier as owning 11.66% of the company. Therefore the connection is complete – Mr Liu is the brother-in-law of Carson’s ex-girlfriend and the reason he invested in BIH was purely because of that family connection.

Family connections are rife within the BIH board. Recent appointee Ma Shui Cheong is Carson’s brother-in-law whilst Chan Shun Wah (also known as Matthew Chan) is a relative of another ex – this time a lady called Li Wing Sze, who Carson owns an apartment with in the mid-levels and who is mentioned on the asset freeze along with Carson.

I can’t tell you for sure what is happening in the BIH offices in Hong Kong as I don’t work there and thus am not witness to the day to day events, but the impression I get is of a company in trouble. There seems to be a lot of corporate infighting and the evidence I have seen suggests that Peter Pannu has taken his role as MD very seriously, moving to get rid of those he considers aren’t working in the best interests of the company as quickly as possible with scant thought to damaging face or reputation – which of course is big in China. Whilst I have a certain sneaking admiration for the way Mr Pannu seems to want to ensure he’s doing his job properly I also get the impression that he’s the kind of person who would move on people who didn’t agree with him or what he does – and I will confess that I don’t entirely trust that Mr Pannu has the best interests of anyone but himself and Carson Yeung at heart.

As the Trust board continues to build a dialogue with key shareholder in BIH I will  continue to try to build on what we know about the parent company, their actions and their status and maybe, finally, give people answers to what they consider to be the “hard questions”.

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51 Responses to “We Are Family – Investigating the BIH Shareholders”

  • glyn rees says:

    First well done OP that must of took you a hell of a long time to sort. So it looks as if you and the trust softly, softly is working but how does BCFC stand with all this going on Kro4ever

  • fingles says:

    Very interesting read OP, very well done.

  • Mirkwood says:

    Just to say that “the city called Guangzhou” may be better known to most people under its former name of Canton.

  • Dave mann says:

    i always thought they were a chinese mafia type family with in house bickering and so
    that maybe the case!

  • carlos says:

    Well done Almajir, got a feeling you and the trust could be swimming in very murky waters. One question more regarding the accounts really, is do we know if this alleged £20m debt left by sully & gold is genuine? I know all clubs/companies have ongoing liabilities such as transfer fees etc, but this came right out of the blue considering the way the previous board ran the club. Did Yeung genuinely inject cash, is it all accounted for as there seems to be no formal agreements entered into. Considering the charges CY is up on, and his record at Blues to date, I’m very concerned that his “casual” accounting techniques may be hiding something untoward.

    • almajir says:

      I am led to believe that there genuinely was debt left behind – how much exactly I am unsure of.

      • carlos says:

        I’ve no doubt there was debt Almajir, as all companies operate with debt, but the level surprises me. Was it just an excuse to burden Blues with debt to CY and his associates, or to allow them to move money around bearing in mind the charges he is accused of. Or was it a way of managing expectations and allowing the squad to be sold off without a squeak of protest. Either way mate, the club has been grossly mismanaged for one reason or another for the last three years.

  • quokkasskip says:

    If i was a BIH shareholder with any sway/major investment I would be asking serious questions.

    That said, they are all ‘family’ so they probably have the inside track, are making enough money out of the club and therefore keeping quiet.

    Keep up the good work and pressure Dan.

  • Dave mann says:

    its a shame we cant get someone in whos heart is in the club , but saying that sullivan and gold
    were always looking for local investment and we dont seem to have a multi billionaire brummie
    who wants to.

  • prewarblue says:

    Very well dome Mate,,,,,,is this a case of “We Are Family” by Sly and the Stone [Faced ] Family ?,,,,,or is it another broken record ?

  • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

    Good work by almajir and the Blues Trust.

    Talk about the plot thickening…

    Convoluted or what??

    The chances are that until this ‘power struggle’ is resolved, then we cannot be be sure of any sale or the status quo resuming.

    How on earth old CY thought/thinks that this ‘arrangement’ with all and any folks he has ever come across would/will work, only he and his bartender can tell.

    The one thing that comes across without any ambiguity, is the fact that CY must be a smooth, smooth operator if he can still get his “exes” to get their relatives to pump money into his ventures.

    I sincerely hope that the Trust will try and explore the possiblity of whether it is feasible to acquire a small shareholding in some way – once any bars have been removed/lifted – and try and get a greater and rightful influence in what is happening at our club.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Almajir;, It would appear that the deeper yourself and the Trust dig, !!. The ” murkier ” the waters appear,!!.

    I do fear for the sale of our club, As it appears any possible purchaser in the future will not really know what they are buying, ?.

    By that, !!. I mean that everything is shrouded in mystery and would appear to be alost impossible to create a clear and concise appraisal of just WHO has a finger in the pie, ?.

  • Dave mann says:

    Hear, Hear!

  • Mike says:

    Great reporting as per usual mate.

    Only thing I would say that it’s a little naive BIH
    Has offices or is a reputable company.

    This is just a gathering of friends and family who have no real interest in BCFC.
    After speaking to a former Hong Kong policeman recently.
    Setting up and closing down company’s are all part of the course in China.
    They use the company’s to filter out paying tax.
    They are all at it. BIH is just another amongst thousands.

    The sooner this so called company/pannu can get its books in order the quicker they can sell.

    It’s a mess and we are right in the thick of it.

  • Ed says:

    The question is, are they really going to sell, or is all this just leading to an adjustment of what “friends” of CY are involved with the ownership of our club.

    • prewarblue says:

      You mean a “Family Dispute” or is it more like “Ali Baba and his 40 mates” squabbling over the loot ?,,,,we already know who got the “Flying Carpet” from the flitting backwards and forward to H.K,,,,,,he,s gonna miss those frequent flyer bonus points totting up on his card,,,,dont think the Mafia are involved ,,,,,you really must “Tri-a[r]d—er Dan to find out who the real powers are

  • andy says:

    Very good read and with the club in such a mess this gives me more of a headache. Im of the opinion the club will remain in Chinese ownership, how? when? why? who? what?

  • Murph says:

    It’s no wonder they screwed up there all inbred ! We are family , we are blues n a family too , please why can’t a English person buy us ? Jasper n crew get your who wants to be millionaire money out and get a consortium together , come on groovey !!

  • DoctorD says:

    Great investigation mate.

    But what exactly do Zhou Dan and Liu Xingcheng do — an do they have any money to invest in the club?

  • Paulo says:

    Appreciate the work put into this again almajir, as always, and it is interesting to read – the more the perseverance uncovers those hidden gems. It is not surprising though that the Chinese keep business within family connections, they are not the only ones to do so, but in the case of BIHL ..it is surprising to see how bad things have become because of the huge crisis of CY. I wonder how far the family tree stretches in terms of financial involvement!

  • Brumboi says:

    Well done Al,

    Unfortunately, no matter what’s found out, it won’t make the slightest difference to how CY and Co control our club.

    Ref “Mr Pannu has the best interests of anyone but himself and Carson Yeung at heart”. – I think that could be said of 99% of football club owners. The only real exception I can think of is Dave Whelan – Wigan.

    Murph, you mention Jaspers who wants to be a millionaire. I think CY was a contestant on that show; He phoned a family/friend.

  • mark says:

    Great coverage mate. Keep people in the,loop, what blues do on the pitch is more of my interest. Sound like to me Carson got too many girlfriends lol

    • DoctorD says:

      I wonder what all those women see in him — can’t be his good looks. So it’s either his brain, his money or his blarney. Seeing as he’s skint and had made some investments, I can only suppose he’s a right old charmer. I know – it’s that hat he wore at Wembley..

  • Dave says:

    A well investigated article on a very complex set up. Always worth remembering the old Chinese proverb that: “the fish rots from the head”

  • Mjt says:

    Almajir, you have spent a lot of time researching this and have provided more information than BIHL have ever provided and that is much appreciated, my question is what are you/the Blues trust trying to achieve? If it is simply to provide information then as I’ve said it is appreciated and you’re doing a great job so keep up the good work… But, I get the impression this is part of a wider plan/strategy to be more than an information service for Blues fans, at least it should be as far is the trust is concerned, so to repeat the question, what is the end game? What are you/the trust trying to achieve? (This is absolutely not a criticism of you or the trust, I’m interested in the trust but am trying to understand what they are working towards).

    • almajir says:

      The end game?

      I can only speak for myself, but for me the endgame is two parts: 1) to try to understand what the hell has happened, what has gone wrong and what we can help do to stop it happening again and 2) for me at least – to try to help ensure that the sale of the club goes through quickly and smoothly.

  • bkkblue says:

    Good work fella, cheers.

  • marky mark says:

    Nothing but admiration for your efforts Almajir, my head hurt just reading it.

    But nothing in the report strikes me as illegal ?

  • StevieW says:

    Magic investigation OP keep it going

    So we have a soured family business that owns a failing desperate football club.

    This makes Dallas look like a legit forecourt filling station. Oops showing my age now.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Very well done. You’ve put the Mail to shame.

  • Tony says:

    It may seem out of place but a thought for a former player and Captain Dick Neal, A Tall well built lad who played the old fashioned no 6 left half. Never the most gifted but a 100% player who never failed to give his all, Scored his fair shair of goals too mostly with his head.
    Anyone who had been tackled by Dick knew about it ,sort of made you go wondering off around the pitch to avoid him. Always gave me the impression he had had a good time the night before a match but gave everything he had for all that.
    Like Eddie Brown he was a yorkshire man but he loved the blues, Dick Neal was a part of Blues history and he would run through a brick wall for the Blues sadly his type are no longer part of the game.

  • SnoopyBlue says:

    Well said Tony. You and I are obviously of an age, Dick Neal was one of my favourites as a kid. As you say Dick Neal was a 100% grafter. Apparently, when he retired from football, he ran a pub in Penkridge for twenty years, during which time, he started a pub football team but insisted that they play in Blue and White. He loved Blues. R.I.P Dick. God Bless.

  • BluesinJapan says:

    “Recent appointee Ma Shui Cheong is Carson’s brother-in-law whilst Chan Shun Wah (also known as Matthew Chan) is.. ”

    Are you sure this s the right way round? It would seem to make more sense if Ma Shui Cheong was also known as Matthew Chan.

    If not it gets even more confusing to have a Ma Shui Cheong and a Matthew Chan floating around in discussions.

    • almajir says:

      I’m quite sure I have it the right way round… you see, you forget that Chinese names have the surname first.

      Thus Ma Shui Cheong is Mr Ma.

      Chan Shun Wah is Mr Chan, and he uses the English first name Matthew instead of Shun Wah. Kinda like how Carson Yeung’s proper name is Yeung Ka-Sing.

      • AussieBlue says:

        Sorry to chime in late on this but Almajir is correct. I’m an old Asia hand and Chinese naming protocols take some understanding. Most who deal with Westerners are given Western names by their English teachers, or pick one they like the sound of. Chinese is a phonetic language, the sound is important so you often find westernised names that are unusual or archaic. I’ve met Dorothy Chans, Deidries, Violets and even a Celestial. Guys like westernised names that have gravitas or honour attached to them. Winston is very popular, as are Matthew, William and portmanteau names such as Royston. Most Chinese do put their family name first unless, in dealing with Westerners, the adopted name comes first, e.g. ‘Carson Yeung Ka-Sing’. Spellings can vary – remember Chinese is phonetic. X is pronounced with a soft ‘Sh-‘ and can often mutate to a Sh- spelled beginning. So, nothing wrong with Matthew Chan using his anglicized name.

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