HONG KONG The future of Birmingham City is bright, the English soccer club said on Wednesday in a bid to reassure fans and shareholders a day after owner Carson Yeung resigned as chairman of the parent company.
Yeung, a former hair stylist to Hong Kong's rich and famous, stepped down from Hong Kong-listed Birmingham International Holdings Ltd (BIHL) as he awaits a verdict in a $93 million money-laundering trial in which he has pleaded not guilty.
The trial has revealed the flamboyant businessman's close ties to the gambling hub of Macau's casino world, both as an investor and gambler, and how that facilitated business investments which helped him amass his wealth.
The 53-year-old, who has owned the Championship (second tier) club since 2009, attended an extraordinary general meeting with BIHL's shareholders on Wednesday but left early and declined to answer reporters' questions.
The football club's director and BIHL's chief executive, Peter Pannu, said he expected trading in shares of the company, which have been suspended since June 2011, to resume shortly although he did not elaborate.
"He (Carson Yeung) has got to attribute a bit more time to some other priorities, no doubt you would know what those priorities are, okay?," Pannu said
"We've ensured that a smooth transition back to resumption of trading, that's a milestone. So the shareholders are all happy about that," he said.
During the meeting, shareholders approved seven resolutions that would allow BIHL to raise more capital, including two that approved the issue of convertible bonds which would raise a total of up to HK$175 million (US$22.5 million).
Pannu dismissed speculation that the sale of the club was imminent.
"We have interested parties, we are talking to these people, and I think if something substantive comes forward, we will announce that. So don't listen to rumors, listen to proper announcements for this (selling of the club)," he said.
Birmingham are 18th in the Championship, six points clear of the relegation zone, and face fellow strugglers Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
(Reporting By Venus Wu; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Ed Osmond)