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Xtep and Vico Hui – Questions for Pannu
As Birmingham City struggle on with news that further players have to be sold to ensure cashflow is in place for the remainder of the season, there have been many questions online about the Xtep fiasco and the steps being taken by the Club and/or BIH to pursue the lost monies.
The Xtep deal was signed in January 2010 and was trumpeted as a huge deal for Birmingham City – Peter Pannu was quoted in the Birmingham Mail at the time as saying
“This is a very exciting deal,”
“It is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what Carson Yeung is doing for us in China.
The deal, which was valued at £7.8million over five years was seen as the start of a plan to market Birmingham City in China and to create a huge new revenue stream to help fund the club.
However, as we found out it didn’t transpire like that. Birmingham City struggled to obtain the kit that they needed and the merchandise that they needed to sell. Furthermore, it became evident that Birmingham City hadn’t seen a penny of the money raised from the deal.
Things came to a head in June 2012 when Pannu made an explosive statement to Blues fans where he said:
“The queries related to the Xtep deal, the accounting treatment and details of an unannounced “counter sponsorship” arrangement between BIHL and the sponsor as personally handled by Mr Vico Hui and Miss Pauline Wong. Further points were raised regarding the selling of merchandise in China at the sponsor’s stores with modified BCFC logos.”
“A BCFC board meeting was also called by me on 22 June 2012 which Mr Hui failed to attend to answer all queries raised.”
“It is understood that Vico Hui has resigned from the BIHL board and his resignation has been accepted. This will take effect from the July 1 2012. It is unclear if he will also resign from the BCFC and BC PLC boards but further changes may occur and in which case will no doubt be communicated as appropriate.”
However, Vico Hui remains a substantial shareholder of BIH, holding a 4.21% stake in the company via his British Virgin Islands investment vehicle Premier Rise Investments.
With Birmingham City struggling for cash, there has been many questions with respect to BCFC or BIH recovering lost monies with respect to the Xtep deal but when the question was put to Peter Pannu by this website via email recently he declined to comment. However, one could understand that due to legal and confidentiality issues Mr Pannu may not be able to say anything specific about the situation.
Furthermore, one cannot examine the accounts of Birmingham International Holdings as they are unavailable for the time in question. Despite extensive searches of Companies House here and in Hong Kong, it has been impossible to locate a company called “Birmingham (Hong Kong) Ltd” as described in the BIH announcement with respect to the Xtep deal and one can only assume that said company is established in a tax haven like the British Virgin Islands or the Cayman Islands where company information is impossible to obtain.
Recent information that has come to light following further investigation by this website is more disturbing. Despite Mr Hui’s resignation from Birmingham International Holdings and BCFC, documents obtained from HK Companies House confirm that Mr Hui remains a director of various companies that are based at the same offices as BIH.
Of the four companies in question, Birmingham Culture and Communications Ltd and Birmingham (China) Ltd are owned by Vico Hui, Blue Noses Ltd is owned by a BVI company called Win Hugo Investment Developments Ltd and Birmingham International Management Ltd is fully owned by Birmingham International Holdings Ltd.
All four are based at the BIH offices in Harbour Centre, Wan Chai. All four barring Birmingham International Management Ltd list Vico Hui as sole director and Pauline Wong (who is also an executive director of BIH and was implicated by Peter Pannu in his statement above) as company secretary, with the aforementioned Birmingham International Management Ltd naming Ip Wing Lun (who was company secretary of BIH until December 7 2012 and is Pauline Wong’s husband) as company secretary and Pauline Wong, Vico Hui and Chan Shun Wah (another BIH executive director) as directors.
With this new information, I have the following questions (which have been forwarded to Mr Pannu for his response). As of yet I have not received a reply.
1) Can Mr Pannu confirm if Birmingham International Holdings received any monies with respect to the Xtep deal and if so can Mr Pannu confirm why they remained in Hong Kong?
2) Can Mr Pannu confirm what connection the four companies above (Birmingham Culture and Communications Ltd, Birmingham (China) Ltd, Blue Noses Ltd and Birmingham International Management Ltd) have with Birmingham International Holdings Ltd?
3) Can Mr Pannu advise why Mr Hui remains a director of a wholly owned BIH subsidiary (Birmingham International Management Ltd) if there remains a question over Mr Hui’s conduct with respect to the Xtep deal?
4) Can Mr Pannu advise why Ms Wong remains an executive director of BIH and director of a wholly owned BIH subsidiary (Birmingham International Management Ltd) if there remains a question over Ms Wong’s conduct with respect to the Xtep deal?
Finally, 5) If monies are missing from the Xtep deal then can Mr Pannu advise if he does intend to raise legal proceedings against any and all alleged guilty parties?
Whilst Birmingham City remain in financial strife it’s understandable that fans will question what has happened to see the club in this parlous position. Whilst I remain convinced of the truth that no monies have left these shores for HK as I have been assured many times by the club, I think this is one area that seems to have been quietly forgotten and needs to be addressed by Pannu and/or the BIH board