This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on January 9, 2023 - January 15, 2023
Surviving in the cut-throat electronic payment industry where margins are thin did not seem to be a problem for Revenue Group Bhd. Founded by three persons starting with the same surname of Ng, the company appeared to be in a comfortable position in a crowded field and was in a race to land a digital banking licence.
But that is not the case now. Last week, a boardroom dispute appears to have broken out in Revenue Group. Two of its executive directors — Brian Ng Shih Chiow and his brother Dino Ng Shih Fang — were suspended and stripped of their executive positions on Jan 4.
The brothers, together with Datuk Eddie Ng Chee Siong, founded Revenue Group in 2003. Eddie, who holds almost 10% in the company, has been re-designated as managing director-cum-alternate chairman. He was managing director and group CEO-cum-alternate chairman previously.
Brian and Dino, who were executive directors, hold 11.6% and 11.2% respectively.
Revenue Group disclosed that Dino, after his suspension, had returned to the office together with four unknown individuals and allegedly carted away 30 boxes of documents and items without clearance from the board. The company has stated that it would lodge a police report on the matter and consult its legal adviser on the next course of action.
Cracks started to appear in Revenue Group in early November last year. Chief financial officer Leow Meng Kiat, who only took up the position six months earlier, resigned on Nov 28, citing personal reasons.
The voting trend in the annual general meeting (AGM) on Dec 6 showed a split among the major shareholders. All resolutions were approved but by a narrow margin of less than 1% in an AGM attended by shareholders holding more than 50% of the company.
Apart from the three Ngs, the other substantial shareholders in Revenue Group are mainly funds. The largest blocks are held by funds managed under Kenanga Investment Bank that have more than 10% altogether.
Coincidentally, Kenanga partnered with Revenue Group to bid for the digital banking licence. The other partner was the Sarawak government. The bid was not successful.
The abrupt departure of two of the founders and the subsequent removal of boxes does not bode well for the company, which has 106,000 payment terminals undertaking 84,000 transactions daily.
The company’s share price has fallen and its franchise value has taken a dent. What is the real problem in the company? Some clarification should soothe frayed nerves.
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