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SPH files amended defence and counterclaim in StreetSine litigation case

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) on Tuesday said it has filed an amended defence as well as a counterclaim for a lawsuit against it by Samuel Cranage Baker and Jeremy Lee Chuen Yang. The two plaintiffs have commenced legal proceedings against SPH and its wholly-owned subsidiary SPH Interactive (SPHI) for alleged minority oppression against them.

SPHI had acquired a 60 per cent stake in StreetSine Technology Group (SSTG) in 2014. Mr Baker and Mr Lee each held a 20 per cent stake in SSTG.

SSTG comprises StreetSine Singapore, StreetSine Hong Kong, and the digital platforms Singapore Real Estate Exchange and Hong Kong Real Estate Exchange. SSTG is currently seeking to be placed under judicial management.

In an announcement providing litigation updates on Tuesday evening, SPH said that the plaintiffs Mr Baker and Mr Lee had obtained leave from the High Court of Singapore on June 16 to further amend their writ of summons and statement of claim.

In their amended statement of claim, the plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that Leslie Fong Yin Leong is a party to an alleged conspiracy of SPH, SPHI and Jason Barakat-Brown to oppress the plaintiffs.

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Mr Fong is the chairman of SSTG and Mr Barakat-Brown its chief executive.

Mr Baker and Mr Lee further alleged that Mr Fong has acted in breach of his directors’ duties and exercised his powers as chairman and director of SSTG in a manner that was oppressive towards them.

SPH, which publishes The Business Times, said that Mr Barakat-Brown has also filed an amended defence to the claim.

To date, Mr Fong has not filed his defence. Meanwhile, Mr Baker and Mr Lee have not filed their replies to the defences filed by SPH, SPHI and Mr Barakat-Brown.

Mr Baker and Mr Lee are seeking an order to compel SPHI to buy out their shareholdings and damages for unlawful means conspiracy.

SPH and SPHI have filed a counterclaim against Mr Baker and Mr Lee for various liabilities relating to taxation accrued by SSTG and its wholly-owned subsidiary prior to SPHI’s acquisition of its shareholding in SSTG in 2014.

SPH said it believes the allegations by the plaintiffs are “unmeritorious and groundless”. It also said the claim is not expected to have a material impact on SPH’s operations for the current financial year ending August 31, 2020.

Units of SPH closed at S$1.300 on Tuesday, down one Singapore cent or 0.8 per cent.

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