John Koo, a cousin of chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, has resigned
as managing director of his father's shipping company, Valles Steamship,
following a father-son disagreement over the running of the firm.
Koo, who has gone to Canada, has been replaced by two
half-brothers, David and Eric, who were previously involved with Valles but left
in May 1999 following a family feud.
David has been appointed managing director of Valles Steamship
in Hong Kong and also chief operating officer of Valles Steamship (Canada). Eric
is a director of both companies.
One industry insider said David ``is a former chairman of the
Hong Kong Shipowners Association and a well-respected industry figure''. He
added: ``David nursed the company through the dark days of the 1980s when Hong
Kong shipowners suffered considerably. He was involved in the subsequent growth
of the firm. It is good for Hong Kong that he's back.''
Both David and Eric, who are in their 60s, left after a
``disagreement'' with their father, KM Koo, went to Canada and established their
own shipping company. They have returned after a disagreement between their
father and the younger sibling.
Asked about the reasons for John Koo's departure, one source
told The Standard: ``John wanted more control of the company, but at the
end of the day it is still KM's money.'' KM Koo is chairman of Valles Steamship
and president of Valles Steamship (Canada), based in Vancouver.
He would not be drawn on whether John's racy lifestyle played
a role in his departure. Koo, who is divorced with a young son, has featured in
a Chinese-language weekly gossip magazine which played up his family connection
with Tung Chee-hwa.
John, David and Eric are cousins of Tung Chee-hwa and Tung
Chee-chen, chairman of the Tung family-controlled shipping company, Orient
The family link began in the early 1930s when Tung Chao-yung,
who founded Orient Overseas, married Koo Lee-ching, whose father founded Valles
Steamship in Shanghai.
Valles was re-established in Hong Kong after the communist
takeover on the mainland in 1949. Since then the firm has grown to own Hong
Kong's largest fleet of 100,000 deadweight tonne (dwt), aframax-sized tankers.
The company owns seven 107,000 dwt vessels with a further
three on order at Japanese shipyards that are due for delivery between now and
Valles Steamship is paying about US$40 million (HK$312
million) for each of the ships ordered in December 2000 and January 2001.
The source denied industry speculation that John Koo had left
following a row with his father over the cost of the ships.
``Valles possibly did pay too much, but they were still good
prices and they got a good deal,'' the insider said. -