Business, Politics | April 1, 2018
Teh Soon Seng, who made waves during the 1993 bull market, succumbs to illness in Shanghai hospital
TEH Soon Seng (caricature below), who rocked the Malaysian stock market during the height of the bull run in 1993, spent his last few years in a place where not many knew of his moves in the capital markets.
After battling a heart condition for several years, Teh finally succumbed to the illness in a hospital in Shanghai, China last week. He was only 59 years old.
Teh had been living in Shanghai for several years, and according to his friend who requested anonymity, he spent the last two years of his life in a hospital in Shanghai.
The friend claims to have known him since 1993 and had worked with him on several projects. Teh, who hailed from Tawau, was a graduate of the London School of Economics.
He made waves in the stock market with several listed companies and his close contemporaries during the 1993 heydays were Datuk Ishak Ismail, known for his direct and indirect stakes in Idris Hydraulic (M) Bhd and KFC Holdings, and Datuk Samsuddin Abu Hassan, then of Landmarks Bhd
In his last interview with StarBiz a decade ago, Teh said that when he was 34, he had 20 bodyguards (eight around him all the time), four Ferraris, several other luxury cars, houses and apartments and a cash hoard.
During the bull run, he could easily make a few million ringgit over a few days.
The early 90s were roaring days for him, and he owned stakes in Aokam Perdana Bhd, a timber-related business.
Aokam then was a must-have stock for fund managers as Teh had created an integrated complex, which was the first of its kind. At the height of the bull run, Aokam was trading at RM31.50 a share.
He was described then by a magazine as the “timber industry’s maverick wunderkind”.
But when the bears took over the stock market, Aokam plunged to its lowest at 60 sen a share and that left a lot of bruised shareholders, and on top of that, Aokam had to contend with bondholders who were screaming for their money.
Apart from Aokam, he also had a majority stake in Golden Plus Holdings Bhd (GPlus).
Teh had served as GPlus’ managing director before resigning in January 2002.
He then sold a large chunk of his 18.6% stake in GPlus to Indian Corridor Sdn Bhd.
In August 2008, Bursa Malaysia ordered GPlus to appoint BDO Binder as its special auditor by Sept 3 that year due to “the lack of clarity in the management of the affairs of GPlus which raises concerns of investor protection,” a report had said.
Ahead of the Asian financial crisis, he began divesting his stakes in many companies and subsequently left the country to look for more exciting stock markets.
China then whetted his appetite, and home to him was between London, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
What happened to Aokam is history, but two years after he left Malaysia, Teh was labelled a “fugitive” over allegations of misappropriation of funds to the tune of RM55mil in Aokam.
In the interview with StarBiz then, he said “life to me is more than a shouting match in public so why argue about it, as this is a one-sided allegation until proven. I did come back many times to Malaysia and I spent two days with Securities Commission officials in 2005 to answer all their queries”.
At that time he was 48, and had moved from the “flashy stuff” to designer T-shirts to enjoying life with music. He eventually dabbled in property and built a water theme park in Shanghai.
“Teh was smart, alert and generous. He had a lot of ideas and was always gung ho.
“He helped build Chinese schools in Tawau and gave donations,” the friend adds.