Often Partisan

Who are Trillion Trophy Asia?

Since the confirmation that a company by the name of “Trillion Trophy Asia Ltd” are the ones to buy a stake either in BIH or BCFC there has been one common question asked by Blues fans on social media and messageboards. Who are Trillion Trophy Asia – and what do they want with our football club?

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to find definitive answers to these questions which can be backed up with material evidence, with mixed results. As always, where I can confirm something as fact I will do so but I will be upfront where I cannot prove something and I invite you to treat any rumours, hearsay or gossip with the scepticism it deserves.

Who are they?

Firstly, the facts. Following extensive searching in various company registers around the world, I have found one company called Trillion Trophy Asia Ltd – and I am going to assume that company is the same Trillion Trophy Asia as the one who are currently involved in some sort of negotiations with BIH/the Receivers.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 12.12.30

The single company I have found called Trillion Trophy Asia Ltd are incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. They were registered on September 5, 2014 by an agency called Overseas Management Company Trust (BVI) Ltd.

Unfortunately, any further documentation on names of directors or shareholders is almost impossible to obtain with the only narrow window of opportunity being if it is being requested by a law enforcement agency working on a specific case involving the company. As this 2012 report by the Guardian confirms, even that can be illusory with agents maybe only producing sham nominee directors based in places such as Nevis, Vanuatu or Dubai. OMC’s own website confirms how BVI companies can protect the confidentiality of directors and shareholders information – in short, a BVI company is set up with privacy in mind.

As I have stated on many occasions previously, it is my belief that TTA has been set up as an investment vehicle purely for this transaction. It’s something that is commonly done to protect privacy of shareholders and to be tax efficient due to the tax neutral status for companies in BVI.

So that’s it? We won’t find out who they are?

If you are after definitive, written proof then yes – that is it until such time BIH deems to make a further announcement to the HKSE disclosing any details of who TTA are. There is no timeframe as to when BIH have to make a disclosure as to the identity of TTA and the deadline for a further update of information is one month following the last announcement – which is July 30.

However, like anywhere else in the world Hong Kong is a place that runs on gossip – and having spent the last few weeks pestering my contacts for any and all information on potential leads as to who is involved in BIH I have some answers. I have to re-iterate here that this information is speculative, that I have no written evidence to confirm that it is true and that as such it is absolutely imperative that it is taken as such.

One name that has cropped up in relation to conversations I have had with contacts about the people connected to Trillion Trophy Asia Ltd is the Chairman of Sing Pao Media Enterprises (HK:8010), Gu Zhuoheng.

Gu was appointed as executive director and as chairman of Sing Pao Media Enterprises on October 29, 2014. According to his bio in the announcement made by SPME to the Stock Exchange with respect to his appointment, Gu is/was 42, a graduate of the Distance Learning Collage [sic] of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, majoring in legal studies. He is a successful businessman, with investments in various concernswith much experience in the mining business – there is citable confirmation he was a substantial shareholder of Ding He Mining Holdings Ltd (HK:705).

However, Gu has had to fight off bad press recently with SPME being forced to announce to the stock exchange a denial that Gu had had his movement restricted between PRC and HK over issues surrounding a Shenzhen-based online financing platform.

Hold on a moment, isn’t Sing Pao Carson’s newspaper? I thought you said they weren’t connected?

While it is certainly true that Carson is still listed as a substantial shareholder within Sing Pao, there have been some major legal contretemps between the two as Sing Pao have sued Carson for HK$20.5million in unpaid loans. From this I think we can safely assume that Carson and the board of Sing Pao are not on the same page and that there is no connection between Carson and any potential involvement of Gu Zhuoheng with TTA.

Who else is involved?

At this moment in time, I have no further names I can disclose although I am still continually trying to find out further information. The only other thing I can add is that I’ve been categorically told by contacts in China is that the investors are from HK/China and are by no means household names – even in those locations.

I will repeat that any information gained at the moment remains as hearsay until BIH/EY make an announcement to the HKSE confirming details of who is involved.

The Football League will not get further involved in finding out who TTA are until there is a concrete approach on the table and names are proposed as owners or directors – at which point they will be asked to complete the owners and directors test. The Football League can block the appointment of any director if said director cannot pass that test and as such EY have confirmed in announcements to the stock exchange in that instance they reserve the right to terminate the exclusivity agreement.

As much as EY have been more open than the previous regime under Peter Pannu were about negotiations I personally believe that it would be conducive to openness and transparency if they could be more forthcoming over potential names. However, it seems almost certain that there are non-disclosure agreements in place and no announcement will be made over identities behind TTA until a firm bid is in place with a timetable as to how any potential takeover or investment will happen and as such, as much as I personally would like to know more I think we have no choice but to be patient and wait.

There is no doubt that any takeover will be a complex transaction; I have seen some people express dissatisfaction with the process – particularly as at West Bromwich Albion there is a takeover potentially taking place with a single month exclusivity.  WBA are a very different animal however being a company that is not listed on a stock exchange and in the main (88%) owned by one person. The complexities surrounding a takeover of BCFC are as a direct result of the HKSE listing and the fractured ownership and management of the holding company.

Despite this, things are moving. Birmingham City plc (the UK parent of BCFC) has called an EGM for August 11 with one resolution – the removal of Ryan Yeung Tsz-tsung as director. The vote is a formality – with 96.64% of the votes, what BIH wants they will get – however, my understanding is that as Ryan has refused to resign (as Pannu did) then there must be an EGM – at a cost of around £12,000. Once Ryan is removed, I wonder if he will follow Pannu in taking legal action.

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61 Responses to “Who are Trillion Trophy Asia?”

  • Adam True Blue says:

    Welcome back Daniel, missed you and OP, and once again an informative piece. Thankyou. Kro

  • fingles says:

    Welcome back.

  • Tony E says:

    Thanks for the update and welcome back. I thought Ryan’s role was unpaid, in which case I can see no reason why he would seek legal address should he be removed. If this chap Gu is involved I have a fear that we are going from one convicted criminal to someone who the authorities have placed under restricted movement, presumably because of something they are investigating. No doubt it will all come out in the fullness of time.

  • Preston Bob says:

    Welcome back Dan, I can see you have been busy. Whilst I look forward to any take over I fear that the primary aim of any investor is to hold the HKSE listing, we need somebody who loves Premier league football to buy and invest in the club. I hope this is the case but somehow think not.

  • Walker says:

    Silly question but have you called the phone number on the trillion trophy info above? :0)

    • almajir says:

      Silly answer, but that’s the agent and as I alluded to in the article, they will tell you nothing. ;)

  • Poppa999 says:

    Can I ask you Dan, if Blues got into the Premier League would the ambiguity of ownership prevent the owners from passing the ‘proper persons’ clause?

    • almajir says:

      Poppa

      Simple answer is no – for the simple reason that if it’s okay for the FL, it’s okay for the PL…

    • chris says:

      would be same in either league that once they become owners certain people in the Trillion hierarchy would have to pass fit and proper test for what it is worth, which our current situation shows it is worth very little.

  • ChrisG says:

    Have to say i’m fed up with whats going on off the pitch, got my new season ticket through on friday & am looking forward to what I think will be an exciting season on the pitch, after all I support BCFC not BIH. KRO

  • Sjc says:

    How much money is the guy you named worth?

  • Dave Mann says:

    Dan, good piece and good to hear from you again , what’s happening is happening so let them get on with it and we as supporters can look forward to a new season with our first preseason game at Nuneaton tomorrow then of to Kidderminster for my birthday on Saturday and then Burton the Saturday afterwards .. Can’t wait!! Kro

  • Derek says:

    Thanks for the information. A very interesting article. Good luck with your future research!!

  • Richard Granfield says:

    I wonder whether it is wise to research too deeply into details of who is behind TTA Ltd.
    Any disclosure may put the takeover in jeopardy!

    • chris says:

      Tough
      had enough hidden people in current ownership history, if next lot don’t like freedom of press they can always move on

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Welcome back. I expected it to be longer because it is a quiet period and it gives you an opportunity to recharge your batteries.

    I may be in a minority here but I’m not interested in who the backers in Trillion are other than they are people of substance and relative wealth and have a interest on BCFC reaching the Prem and stabilising there. If they then want to cash in at a profit, providing then sell on to ‘the right people’ then I am happy. If they get cold feet from being worried about ‘outed’ then we are the losers.

    • chris says:

      people of substance?
      E&Y haven’t even disclosed that they have a paper trail for the loan money.
      Trillion have said they will loan BIHL nearly £13 million but where has this money come from?
      E&Y should be trusted to some degree on this but as we saw last week on TV where British estate agents were handling laundered money, i want to know that this money is legit.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        E&Y don’t have to explicitly state there is a paper trail. They won’t have struck the deal without due diligence which they say they have done

      • Stephen Powell says:

        Believe, EY would have checked everything out 2-3 times before agreeing to any deal so no worry of where the money comes from, they aint no micky mouse company but are a top 4 worldwide accountancy firm who know what they are doing

  • rvh1t says:

    Excellent as usual, I do hope that your time in Poland is proving fruitful career wise. I cannot help thinking that this company simply want the “shell” of BIHL as it is listed on the HK stock exchange. If so, I think that we can expect to see them keep the club at least viable whilst they bring other investments into BIHL and then sell the Club on to a third party. As usual, we (the fans) will be the last to know.

  • davieboy says:

    Guesswork. Tells us nothing. League have to be happy with potential new investors as BIH and the club would have to inform them

    • chris says:

      League are not involved yet as no deal has been agreed only a loan, so, so far the league are not protecting our club or it’s stadium

  • Adam McDermott says:

    Great to have you back Dan. I hope you’re now refreshed and incidentally agree with your email earlier that it’s onerous and unfair to saddle you with all the investigative work on BCFC. Not that I can currently volunteer to take up this mantle I’m afraid.

    Guess we’ll have to wait for official news, but, Gu Zhuoheng (also listed as Ku Zhuoheng on some company searches) seems to be quite successful with shares in Ding He Mining, Sing Pao, South Mining (CVM Minerals) – https://www.etnet.com.hk/www/eng/stocks/realtime/quote_ca_sdi.php?code=705

    In any case it’s the club who is in our hearts and I wouldn’t be surprised that the BIH listing on the HKSE is the most prized asset for any buyer, not a 2nd tier football club 1000s of miles away !

    At least there’s no kerfuffle over trying to change the name of our beloved club ! Wouldn’t want us to be anything but BCFC !!!!

  • ThaiBlue says:

    A warm welcome back Dan and OP. None of this surprises me BVI.. hiding names! This may take the full year they have to conclude purchase..if ever!
    PS loved your book, even better second time of reading . KRO

    • PeteB says:

      I’d be chuffed if I knew we’d be sold in a year. I think you can double that time and we’ll still be talking about who TTA are!

      • Andrew says:

        I dont think the club have 2 years to be on the market for. if they dont change hands soon i think even with our recent change of fortune in match results will be short lived. we need investment for sustainability.

        • BhamCityJulian says:

          Andrew we’ve just got £13m

          • miketrow66 says:

            Agree with much of what you’ve said, except that I believe BIHL have received the £13m, not BCFC. And that the club received a smaller amount of £880k to facilitate resumption of banking facilities.

            I’m sure Dan will correct me if I’m wrong.

            #KRO

          • Andrew says:

            Ok that we have, but I am yet to see where that has translated into the members of the playing staff since it was announced

          • BhamCityJulian says:

            Andrew / Mike:

            Panos said that the majority of the money would be allocated to BCFC. Maybe another reader can confirm that? It will take me a while to find the link.

            I don’t think we would have signed TK without it: I expect he’s on well over £5k p/w and had a decent signing on fee.

          • Tony says:

            As I understood it the majority of the thirteen mill was for bcfc in order to strenghthen the team I make that at least 7 million so where is it? The german will cost about 500 k plus his wages say 15k a week IF you take the players we have released that would easily cover that.
            We need some additions this wee,k time is getting short and so is my patience.

          • BhamCityJulian says:

            Tony, it isn’t going to be spent all at once. Some will be allocated to January and then there is next summer. Remember Spurs and Liverpool both blew their Bale and Suarez funds with Big Bang signings

        • Adam True Blue says:

          Perhaps the Investment that we have receieved is not for purchainsg new staff but maintaining current staff so that they don’t all abandon ship! Kro

          • Adam True Blue says:

            Must Learn to type properly, ‘received’ and ‘purchasing’ i’m not even using predictive text !!

  • nigel sale says:

    Hi Dan with regards to the meeting at St Andrews l have had my invitation to attend this has been done properly through neville registrars this is the first proper communication l have had as a shareholder in Birmingham City PLC and just shows how things were a closed shop before.still think I will attend even though I live in Bournemouth and its midweek

  • john says:

    Does tax efficient have anything to do with tax evasion ? If people are honest and decent, why do they have to hide behind anonymity ? Will we ever get an honest answer ?

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Not knowing who Trillion is is the only negative really and if the reason for secrecy is so as we dont how much they are worth maybe that makes business sense. The positives:

    1/ They have passed E&Y due diligence

    2/ There is no connection to CY, old BIH, Grandtop

    3/ They are sensible business people:

    a/ it is absolutely necessary to obtain security for their loan and that is what they have done.

    b/ it they are relatively wealthy why have it discovered and give the impression that BCFC has access to substantial funds?

    4/ They are described as investors so the loan is likely to be netted off against the purchase price paid to BIH

    5/ The loan figure of £13m is not an insignificant amount of money per se but when split between members of syndicate it may be relatively small.

    6/ Panos and Gary have not given any indication that they are uncomfortable with the situation. There is no suggestion that Trillion have any executive control or want to, what might be seen as, interfere

    • PeteB says:

      But aren’t most of those positives just guesswork? Do we know they are sensible business people? We certainly cannot say we know there is no connection to CY – the article above certainly suggests there is!

      E&Y aren’t in post to get the best deal for the fans, they are there to get the best deal for the shareholders.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        Sensible business people get security for loans; sensible business people keep quiet about their wealth; sensible business people don’t conduct their business affairs in public; sensible business people don’t sign on the dotted line unless they are 100% sure

        E&Y have stated to the HKSE that there is no connection to old BIH/CY. Are you calling them liars?

        Thank you

        Julian

  • So if there is an investigation or enquiry somewhere along the line why have E&Y chose TTA as the preferred company out of the 7 bidders, ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    People’s careers at E&Y end, at the least, if there is anything untoward between them and Trillion. This isn’t FIFA or a rail franchise where the stakes are so high they can be perceived to make the risk worthwhile.

  • oldburyblue says:

    Nice to have you back Dan. I applaud you for your hard work in trying to get answers but should not be surprised or take it personally when you find it impossible. Great to hear from Panos at last in his 2-part interview. He came across very well I thought…..even though he was spoon-fed by his junior member of staff Tatts and the interview appeared very much pre-scripted.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Oldbury blue, whilst I can believe it was ” scripted “, The big thing for me was that Panos, has come out in the open to enable us to be as up-to-date, as possible,

      These N,D,Notices are serious stuff in cases of prospective buyers trying to ” suss-out ” the murky depths of BIH, If and when matters become clearer, THEN, names will materialize,?.

      At least, Panos, has realized the necessity of confirming funds raised [ from any source ], STAY in the club for G,R, to raise our player base with skilled personnel.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        Professional presentation are scripted or prepared. In the circumstances you couldn’t blame him with the scrutiny his comments would be under.

  • Andrew says:

    if this sale happens i wonder if more of the crap from CY ownership will be unearthed afterward

  • Mitchell says:

    I think every fan should watch the Panos interview from Marbella. This being in 2parts. It answers absolutely everything we need to know. Honest,straightforward questions that were answered in plain English and treated with every fans desire to know exactly where we stand. Importantly, the categoric assurances that TTA have no past history with CY and co. Nothing further to add- just watch the 2part video.

    • oldburyblue says:

      What happened to those signings we were DEFINITELY going to make over a month ago Mitchell?

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        Act in haste, repent at leisure

        • oldburyblue says:

          I agree with that maxim Julian. My question was aimed at those that infer that they have “inside knowledge” allowing them to make definitive statements.

    • Tony says:

      Mitchell are you working in the PR dep?t as for the Panos interview that was absurd, it was scripted and he was spoon fed the answers.Tatts has not changed he will never rock the boat.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        I have to say that, after watching both parts, I wasn’t really any the wiser. Most of what he said has already been reported over recent weeks anyway.. especially on this blog. So, although it was nice of the guy to front up, he didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know. But thanks anyway.

  • Rric says:

    Welcome back = missed you. I continue to be concerned about HK/China people who are unnamed having potential ownership of St Andrews. Thanks for the information = sorrylocal newspapers are not helping out.

  • rhees says:

    Welcome back Dan been suicidal with out your updates

  • Tony says:

    Welcome back Daniel, hope you feel refreshed whillst being relied upon can be considered a great compliment I can well understand it being daunting nice to see you back anyhow.
    One thing that intriges me about this is this guy involved in trillion was involved in the mining game, was there not talk about Carson wanting to diverse into this field so he could keep the HKSE Listing.after giving up BCFC ?.

  • FellowBlue says:

    Im confident in the involvement of Gu Zhuoheng as, although you yourself stress that it is currently speculation, you have never let us down yet.
    If he became executive director/chairman of Sing Pao on October 29, 2014 and TTA were then registered on September 5, 2014 do you agree that suggests the two could well be connected? Carson is a substantial shareholder within Sing Pao, even with the unpaid loans ect, I still find that concerning. I believe if two people’s paths cross you can never rule out them connecting. It’s possible Gu Zhuoheng could easily be acting for/with Carson. although I agree that’s unlikely. He could also be ‘acting against’ Carson – meaning Gu Zhuoheng wants to take his most valuable asset to get repayment/revenge on Carson. (This is a soap opera after all…)
    I just cant see past the fact their is a possibility of a connection between either. Sing Pao and TTA and/or Gu Zhuoheng and Carson. Id hoped their could be no trace whatsoever of possible connections between carson and anyone involved what’s happening now.
    Maybe it’s just the cynic/pessimist in me that this saga has created. Time will tell, or OP will anyway… Great work as always, hope you well. Thanks Dan. KRO.

  • Mitchell says:

    In defence of Tattum spoon feeding Panos etc during the 2 part Marbella interview and the responses from him. I found the clarity and general care by Panos to give Blues fans a fair bit of renewed hope quite refreshing. Yes I agree that it was an interview to give everyone ‘a good feel good factor’-but why not? Surely we have suffered enough over 3/4 years without a trace of hope for the future. Perhaps times are changing for the better and from what Panos imparted was that we appear to be in a good place with young players being signed on contracts and older ones being given proper deals as well. In Panos we have a non footballing man who realised that the only way was to get EY in to sort matters and put the club in a survival mode. Without his actions I am not sure we would have survived the past season. If the Tattum interviews were ‘scripted and answers spoon fed’ then give me more. Anything better than the past years of the daily threats of Administration or worse.Our dark past days are now hopefully a distant nightmare and we don’t live there anymore.

  • paulieboy says:

    Mitch / Dave Mann, where have you been? Ok I hear the excuses of no OP, however we are back as therefore your roles as “Agent Blues” recommences.
    Get some signings in the bag, were getting nervous and need more class in midfield and attack.
    We expect results so good luck!
    In regards to Trillion, still uneasy but once further defined clarification is announced then we will get a better picture, good or bad.
    PS: Good news on Gray contract signing, at least we will drive any bids up to the highest value, but lets hope that’s not for another 12 months at least!

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    We’ll never know but I suspect the Trillion money enabled a better deal for Gray in exchange for a relatively high conditional buy-out clause. No doubt many will find fault with his outcome


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