The major players in the Hong Leong Cap saga

From left: Yvvone Chia, Quek and Jim Leng

The Hong Leong Capital buyout saga has thrust certain individuals into the limelight. While those from the Hong Leong Group are well-known in corporate circles, the one low-profile individual Datuk Dr Yu Kuan Chon has this saga to thank for him becoming a big corporate name today. Here are the profiles of the key players:

·Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan is no stranger to the corporate world, having entrenched himself as the face of the Hong Leong group of companies, one of the most prolific business groups in the country.

One of the richest men in Malaysia, he is known as much for his shrewd business ways as for his thrill of taking on personal gambles and high-risk ventures.

Going by his recent trail of corporate activities, it appears that there is no slowing down for this 69-year-old tycoon.

Among his more recent activity is his investment in TH Heavy Engineering Bhd (THHE), an up-and-coming oil and gas firm that has turned around and is poised to play alongside the big boys.


Series of privatisations

Its international oil company partner is bidding for one of the risk service contracts by Petronas, and it recently formalised a joint venture with oil giant McDermott International Inc

Quek has also been embarking on a series of privatisations. In December last year, Quek (via his vehicle GuoLine Overseas Ltd) made a takeover offer of his 75%-controlled Guoco Group Ltd at HK$88 (RM35.20) per share. Then in January, he made the attempt via Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd (HLFG) to privatise Hong Leong Capital Bhd. Both deals however have not gone through as minority shareholders have been holding out for higher takeout prices.

There is speculation that Quek could also be looking to privatise HLFG. Analysts say that there are too many “holding company entities” within the group and hence there is a need to simplify the structure. However, there are others who reckon that there could be more up Quek’s sleeve. For example, is all this restructuring a step towards a potential takeover bid for the valuable Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA), Hong Kong’s largest independent local bank?

Known to make good stock trades, Quek has also taken up stakes in the new listings of Kencana Petroleum Bhd and Petra Perdana Bhd and was also an investor in Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd and fertility treatment company TMC Life Sciences Bhd.

Quek qualified as a Barrister-at-Law from Middle Temple, United Kingdom.


l. Datuk Dr Yu Kuan Chon – the chairman and executive director of publicly-listed and family-run YNH Property Bhd emerged as a substantial shareholder in Hong Leong Capital Bhd (HLCap) in February, just after HLCap ultimate owner Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan made an offer to take the company private.

A low-profile former medical officer for the Government, Yu, 52 had then gone on to accumulate up to more than 8% of HLCap, putting him in a strong bargaining position in relation to the planned buyout of HLCap, and creating a tussle of sorts between him and Quek. The offer has since fallen through.

However, the saga appears to be far from over as the free float of HLCap shares had this week dipped below the 10% threshold, triggering a suspension of HLCap shares in 30 market day’s time.

As a suspension works to the disadvantage of minority shareholders, Yu, who is also a minority shareholder, can sell some of his shares to ensure that the free float stays above 10%.


Savvy investor

Yu, perceived to be a savvy investor is now tight-lipped about his next course of action.

He tells StarBizWeek that he has no comment when contacted.

After graduating with a medical degree in 1988, Yu started work as a houseman in Klang and continued as a medical officer a year later. Subsequently, he has also served as a medical officer in Ipoh and Taiping hospital.

In 1995 he left the government service and started assisting the family business, according to YNH’s latest annual report.

He is also a non-executive and non-independent director of Rapid Synergy Bhd.


·Lee Jim Leng is the managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Leong Investment Bank. She has more than 20 years of financial industry experience specialising mainly in the field of investment banking.

Lee’s last position was as Managing Director with HwangDBS Investment Bank where she was responsible for the overall development of the bank’s investment business in Malaysia. Prior to that, she worked at Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd from 1999 to 2007 and was tasked to spearhead the bank’s investment banking division in Malaysia and the Asean region.


Corporate banking

Starting off her career in Ban Hin Lee Bank, she was initially in corporate banking, but was already fascinated by corporate finance. She was tasked to set up the capital markets division for the bank.

She only made the transition from corporate banking to investment banking after joining Schroders in 1993. Since then she has made a career of building up investment banking arms.

She led the team which built up UOB’s investment banking department. She was also responsible for building up HwangDBS Investment Bank Bhd when it transformed from universal broker to full-fledged investment bank.


·In a surprise move, Datuk Yvonne Chia, the group managing director and CEO of Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLB), retired from her position with the banking group with effect from June 30, this year. She has held this position since Nov 10, 2003.

Market talk has it that Chia may resurface in the banking industry as her experience is extremely sought after and she is known to be one of the most outstanding bankers around.


Leading positions

Chia is an Economics graduate with more than 26 years experience in the financial services industry, having held leading positions in foreign and local institutions. She started her career in Bank of America and held various roles in Asia.

In 1996, she joined RHB Bank Bhd as CEO and under her helm, she brought RHB from sixth to third largest bank in Malaysia. Chia was appointed an Executive Director of HLB on March 17, 2003.

She was re-designated as Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of HLB on Nov 10, 2003 and had led the growth of HLB to be the fourth largest bank in Malaysia in May 2011.

Chia is also a Certified Risk Professional (CRP). In 2005, she was appointed to the Wharton Fellows, and in 2008, CNBC nominated her as a finalist in the Asia Business Leaders Awards.


Related story:
Queks poker game for HLCap 
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