UPDATE: Stamford Land: Amicably settled lawsuit with minority shareholder Mano Sabnani

Stamford Land and its minority shareholder Mano Sabnani reached an “amicable settlement of all differences” over allegations he had defamed the company and its directors, which had spurred the property developer to file a lawsuit, it said in a joint statement by the two parties, which was filed to SGX on Saturday.

The statement said the two parties would “bring this unhappy episode to an end,” and SGX was thanked for facilitating the settlement.

In early September, Stamford Land said the company and its directors filed a writ of summons against Sabnani who made allegations in a Facebook post, which was published on 27 July and now appears to be blocked, and a letter to the Business Times’ editor, published on 31 July, about how the AGM was conducted and about the property and hospitality company’s capital management.

Those two published items had been “of particular concern to Stamford Land,” the statement from Stamford Land and Sabnani on Saturday said.

The company had previously issued a letter to shareholders saying it had been “wrongly accused” in the Facebook post and the Business Times letter.

“Mr. Sabnani agrees to retract those comments,” the statement on Saturday said. “It was not Mr. Sabnani’s intention to cause any distress to the board and management, and he offers his sincere apologies for the distress caused.”

The statement went on to say that “Sabnani is appreciative of the board and management of Stamford land for its achievements over the years, and its graciousness. It is one of the SGX companies that had enabled him to achieve financial freedom over 30 years of careful value investing.”

Sabnani had previously indicated that he has held 60,000 shares of Stamford Land since November 2012.

Sabnani had submitted a defense, denying the allegations as well as re-stating concerns about how the AGM was conducted, according to a document obtained by Shenton Wire on October 1.

Stamford Land’s lawsuit against Sabnani had sparked concern over minority shareholders’ rights.

At SGX’s 20 September AGM, Tan Boon Gin, chief executive of Singapore Exchange’s chief regulator, SGX RegCo, said companies should resist taking an “overly legalistic” approach to dealing with minority shareholders as it could have a “chilling” effect on shareholders’ engagement, the Business Times reported.

Stamford Land had later sought clarification from SGX on the comments, and then the property company released a statement on 2 October saying “SGX RegCo has stated that they had made it clear at the AGM that their comments were aimed at the market in general and not directed at Stamford Land and the ongoing legal proceedings.”

SGX said in a statement late on Saturday that it viewed the agreement between Stamford Land, its directors and Sabnani as “a positive outcome.”

“Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) firmly believes in and encourages constructive and robust discussions between shareholders and directors during annual general meetings (AGMs) and other shareholder meetings,” the SGX statement on Saturday said.

“While these meetings are subject to qualified privilege, it is important for all parties concerned to note that qualified privilege may not extend to comments that are published or quoted on social or mainstream media,” SGX added.

SGX also noted that it planned to address conduct at AGMs in a best practices guide it will develop with Securities Investors Association (Singapore) and Singapore Institute of Directors.

 

This article was originally published on Saturday 6 October 2018 at 18:55; it has since been updated twice.  

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