Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dr Han Cheng Fong has landed himself a new job.

JUST a month after his exit as chief executive officer (CEO) of Fraser & Neave (F&N) caused a swirl of controversy, Dr Han Cheng Fong has landed himself a new job.

Dr Han, 65, has joined the operations of property tycoon Ng Teng Fong - Singapore’s richest man, according to Forbes magazine.

His job will focus on expansion plans in China. This is right up his alley as the property heavyweight is said to have focused on property in China when he was at F&N, a property, publishing and beverage conglomerate.

F&N has service residences in China and is developing residential properties and shopping centres there as well.

Since Dr Han’s departure from F&N, there has been much speculation as to where he would go.

Prior to F&N, he was CEO at DBS Land but left after it merged with unlisted Pidemco Land to form CapitaLand.

In a statement issued on the day he quit F&N, Dr Han had said: ‘Yes, I have been in discussion with several organisations in the last few months and it is likely I will make up my mind on what my future will be after a break in Europe’.

Mr Ng’s Far East Organization (FEO) is Singapore’s largest unlisted property developer. His son, Philip, is the company’s CEO.

Hong Kong-based Sino Land is the listed arm of FEO. It ranks as Hong Kong’s fifth- largest property developer and has a market value of about $115HK billion ($21S.5 billion). Mr Ng’s son, Robert, is the chairman of Sino Land.

When contacted yesterday, the Sino Group said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Dr Han as the chief executive officer of the Sino Group’s China division.’

Sino Group consists of listed Sino Land and the Ng family’s private group in Hong Kong.

Dr Han will also head a FEO unit, Far East International.

Sino Group said: ‘The job is to expand our real estate interests in China and other markets of interest.’ Dr Han will be doing likewise for the Fullerton Hotel brand.

Sino Land owns the Fullerton waterfront properties which comprise the Fullerton Waterboat House, The Fullerton Hotel, One Fullerton with its trendy restaurants, and the recently acquired Collyer Quay site.

Dr Han, who started his job last Thursday, is in Hong Kong and could not be contacted.

However, his appointment does not clear up the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over F&N’s business and future as a result of his departure.

There has been no elaboration on F&N’s statement that Dr Han’s departure resulted from ‘differences of opinion with the board’.

Just before he quit, F&N announced it had found a new chairman, former SingTel chief Lee Hsien Yang, to take over from Dr Michael Fam who has since retired. F&N took pains to emphasise that Dr Han’s departure had nothing to do with Mr Lee’s arrival.

Then there was talk that Mr Lee’s appointment as well as Temasek Holdings’ entrance early this year as a strategic investor were to fend off takeover plans by Heineken.

Heineken is F&N’s joint venture partner in its beverage business, which includes the famed Tiger Beer.

There was also talk that Dr Han, coming from a property background, was less keen on the traditional parts of the business such as the beer and dairy operations, than the rest of the board.

Property brought in about two-thirds of F&N’s profits last year.

Source : Straits Times - 7 Nov 2007

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