ENDING weeks of silence, Jeremy Yee, who abruptly vacated his seat in March as chief executive of Cordlife Group, claimed that he decided to step down as he was faced with two options set by the private cord-blood banking firm - to leave or be removed.
He also defended his track record in leading the firm and claimed he was not offered the opportunity to renegotiate his employment contract, contrary to Cordlife board's remarks a week ago, at a shareholder dialogue organised by Securities Investors Association (Singapore) (SIAS). It was said then that Mr Yee had not wanted to renegotiate new employment terms.
"That is inaccurate," said Mr Yee, providing his side of the story for the first time since it was announced on March 21 that he was stepping down as Cordlife chief with immediate effect.
"I was not given an option to renegotiate my contract. I was told that I could resign or the company would terminate my services. I chose to resign to pursue other interests," he said in a statement.
Last Thursday, at the SIAS-moderated shareholder dialogue to shed light on Mr Yee's sudden departure, Cordlife independent director and remuneration committee chairman Goh Jin Hian remarked that Mr Yee had resigned following differences over an automatic renewal clause in the contract which entitled him up to 10 per cent of the profit earned subject to the discretion of the remunerating committee.
"There was some misalignment as he wanted full 10 per cent. So, we definitely needed to terminate the contract and negotiate a new one but he took the decision that he didn't want to renegotiate," said Dr Goh.
Mr Yee also denied that he wanted to be paid the full sum, clarifying that under a supplemental deed, he was entitled to an element of profit sharing for the financial year ending June 2015 - the actual amount would be subject to the discretion of the remuneration committee - which would be triggered if the firm and its subsidiaries earned more than S$10 million.
For the subsequent financial years, he said the decision rested on the committee which would explain the formula used to derive the payout, although Mr Yee claimed that there was no explanation forthcoming on the basis of the payout determined by the committee in February this year.
"In other words, it was up to the remuneration committee, not me, to decide whether, and how much, profit sharing I was to receive. I was not in a position to insist on the full 10 per cent," he said, adding that under the amended employment contract, it was not stated that his remuneration would be calculated by differentiating core and non-core profits.
Underperforming non-core business was another key factor cited at the shareholder dialogue by Cordlife chairman Dr Ho Choon Hou for Mr Yee's departure.
Mr Yee said he accepted that the board of directors had the discretion to decide on his suitability to lead the firm's future direction:"That said, in relation to my performance, I believe my track record for the company speaks for itself."