Shareholders demand bold action

GET CRACKING::Several financial holding companies were yesterday grilled over matters that remain unresolved, like the merger of subsidiaries and dealing with convicted officials

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jun 22, 2013 - Page 14

Shareholders of several major financial holding companies yesterday demanded during their annual general meetings that management take bold steps to resolve long-standing issues.

Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控) shareholders passed a resolution authorizing chairman Thomas Wu (吳東亮) to take legal action, if necessary, to push for the merger of two banking subsidiaries, Taishin International Bank (台新銀行) and Chang Hwa Commercial Bank (彰化銀行).

Taishin Financial acquired a 22.5 percent stake in Chang Hwa Bank in 2005 in response to the latter’s plan to shore up its capital strength via a private placement. However, the company has sought unsuccessfully to merge the two lenders for eight years due to resistance from the Ministry of Finance, Chang Hwa Bank’s second-largest shareholder.

Wu promised to explore all possible means first and keep lawsuits as the ultimate resort, in a bid to remove obstacles.

“I share your views on this matter and will keep on trying,” Wu told shareholders.

Tashin Financial will approach the issue while protecting the best interests of all its 420,000 shareholders, he said.

The bank-focused conglomerate in February sent a letter to both the finance ministry and the Cabinet asking to discuss the merger. The Cabinet instructed the ministry to look at the proposal.

Regrettably, the door of communication remains shut, Wu said, adding that he would pay a personal visit to Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) anytime he is free to talk. Chang has said the merger of Taishin Bank and Chang Hwa Bank is not necessary or practical.

Separately, shareholders grilled Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) over a scandal involving its former vice chairman Jeffery Koo Jr (辜仲諒), eldest son of the group’s founder Jeffery Koo Sr (辜濂松).

Shareholders said Chinatrust Financial should cut ties with Jeffery Koo Jr and former chief financial officer Perry Chang (張明田) after the high court recently handed them jail terms of nearly 10 years and eight years respectively for violations of securities transaction rules.

Chinatrust Financial president Daniel Wu (吳一揆) said the company would handle dealings with Chang, now a senior administrator, but could not do anything about the situation of Jeffery Koo Jr, who is now chairman of Chinatrust Charity Foundation (中信慈善基金會), which is independent of the group in terms of its operations.

Chinatrust Financial did not incur losses from the flawed bid in 2006 for state-run Mega Financial Holdings Co (兆豐金控), as reportedly orchestrated by Jeffery Koo Jr through Red Fire Co (紅火), the group’s special purpose vehicle registered abroad, the company said in a statement.

The company made NT$1.7 billion (US$56.14 million) in profit from the controversial deal, the statement said.

Meanwhile, state-run Hua Nan Financial Holding Co’s (華南金控) shareholders elected a new board, where the government gained eight seats and the private camp holds seven.

Hua Nan Financial chairman Wang Rong-jou (王榮周) retains a seat, but announced that he would retire from the helm at the end of this month.

Wong said he is not sorry the group has failed to attract any Chinese lenders under his stewardship, as there is no hurry to push the matter.