Treasury China Trust chief denies claims of poor corporate governance
RICHARD DAVID, chief executive of Treasury China Trust (TCT), has strongly denied accusations in a letter by a shareholder to a Singapore newspaper of poor corporate governance at TCT’s trustee manager, Treasury Holdings Real Estate Pte Ltd (Thre).
“I’m not decrying any other listing environment, but the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) are very diligent about these matters and if they had any concerns around corporate governance, I’m sure they would let us know,” said Mr David, who is executive director of Thre and TCT chief executive.
TCT listed in Singapore in June 2010 and has substantial real estate holdings in China, but has headquarters in Singapore.
Mano Sabnani, a minority shareholder in TCT, wrote a letter to Singapore’s Business Times this week calling for an inquiry by SGX into the way the company is run.
Mr Sabnani said he believed Thre had too much power in the firm, and not the unit-holders. He also said Treasury Holdings directors Richard Barrett and Johnny Ronan, who hold 30 per cent of TCT between them, had too much power in the trustee manager.
Mr David rejected any implication that Mr Ronan and Mr Barrett’s ownership created issues of corporate governance.
“There are no specific instances of a lack of corporate governance given,” he said. “We are a majority independent board. Is he suggesting that there is something wrong with the independent directors? Just because Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett own 30 per cent of the company, the company is poorly run?”
Mr Sabnani also said there were question marks over the independence of certain independent board members appointed to the firm.
Mr David said the independent director referred to in the letter, Xu Sitao, had been engaged by the company previously to provide services but had been deemed independent under the rules of SGX. He pointed out that Mr Xu’s name was misspelt in the letter as Hu.
Mr Sabnani also said a Goldman Sachs report on closing the gap between net asset value per unit and the trading price of the TCT units had not been made public.
“For someone to make a call that a company should release the information, I’m not sure of the basis for this,” said Mr David.
“The review of the report is not finished, and any decision will be made when the final report is in and it may not be disclosed. We will have appropriate disclosure. As the Nama issue has become more intense, we’ve had more disclosures.”