Poon in Inter-Group Fee Row

Sunday Business (London, England), July 9, 2000 | Go to article overview

Poon in Inter-Group Fee Row


HARVEY Nichols owner Dickson Poon is at the centre of disclosure row in Hong Kong concerning payment of an inter-group $16.6m consultancy fee.

The fee was revealed during discussions with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange about spinning off the group's e-commerce business on the Growth Enterprise Market. Eyebrows were raised when the exchange examined documents that showed Poon's wholly-owned Dickson Management Consultancy was providing HK$130m ([pound]11m) in services to Dickson Cyber Concepts, the e-commerce arm of Dickson Concepts (International).

This arrangement is deemed a connected transaction and subject to disclosure and shareholders' approval. The exchange said it had reserved the right to take action against the company, but analysts believe this is unlikely because several of Hong Kong's listed, but family-controlled, companies use similar practices.

"Corporate governance and transparency is better in Hong Kong than elsewhere in this region, but that doesn't mean it's up to UK or US standards," one retail analyst at a US investment bank said. "In Dickson Cencepts's case, there are plenty of transactions between the listed and the private company and that's where it gets confusing."

A Dickson Concepts spokesman said that the board had believed the arrangement - to provide services linked to setting up a new cybermall and shopping centre in Kowloon - was "a provision of services" which is not subject to disclosure under the listing rules. …

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