Underfire: Fusionex chief executive Ivan Teh
A tech entrepreneur who claimed his company was an ambassador for Asian firms has snatched it back from investors after the firm saw its value plunge by £116 million.
After listing in London five years ago, Fusionex chief executive Ivan Teh said the software firm had a responsibility to protect the reputation of others who might follow suit.
But yesterday the 41-year-old seized control of the Malaysian business by the back door, with a vote to delist it from the Alternative Investment Market.
The controversial plan has dismayed minority shareholders who could be left nursing huge losses on investments.
Fusionex’s spin doctors, broker and chairman have all walked out in protest.
Teh has a 41 per cent stake, and won support from allies, including apparent family members.
The resolution to allow him to take back the company was passed by 85 per cent.
Since the plan was unveiled in May, it has sent Fusionex’s share price tumbling from 129p to about 35.5p, wiping £14 million off its value.
Minority shareholders who could lose out include the West Yorkshire Pension Fund – for firefighters and council workers, among others – which has a 2.8 per cent stake and Credit Suisse, which has a 3.6 per cent stake.
One of the City’s top investment groups, Standard Life, condemned the vote. Head of governance Euan Stirling said: ‘It feels like the company has been taken from us without our consent. I don’t think this has done the credibility of markets any favours at all.’
In a letter from the company, shareholders were told the move ‘should not be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness’ and that Fusionex’s future remained positive.
The proposal led to PR agency Buchanan walking out. Account director Steph Watson said yesterday: ‘The [de-listing] was not in the interests of shareholders and therefore we did not support it.’ Former chairman John Croft also resigned last month and broker Peel Hunt quit over ‘major disagreements’.
It comes after Teh’s business was hailed as ‘a success story’ in the Asia Pacific entrepreneurship awards with the boss saying in 2014 of his company’s flotation: ‘Taking all that money comes with a sense of responsibility. You have to do something in return.’
Teh said: ‘I appreciate that the proposal to delist did not sit favourably with every single shareholder, but I am confident that the future will demonstrate that the move will unlock the true value of Fusionex.’