Terence Tea: Like A Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

Following our feature of Mr. Terence Tea, Chairman and CEO of local-listed Accrelist and Jubilee Holdings, the shrewd businessman has recently been conferred the honourary title of Dato’ in Malaysia. Below is the original extract:

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It has been more than a decade since Terence Tea Yeok Kian headed an electronics company.

It was, perhaps, the lack of experience that led to the near downfall of the self-made millionaire, who cried when all that he built after graduating from the Singapore Polytechnic came tumbling down. It was not the loss of millions that made him shed tears; neither was the thought of failure that broke him. Rather, it was the mistakes he made that caused him much regrets.

Looking back, he lamented that he could have made better decisions and be wiser in making acquisitions. “It was like trying to fix square pegs into round holes,” he said.

He had to deal with the aftermath of the company’s failure and the crash of its share price, as he was made the scapegoat for the fallout. There were rumblings that the corporate maneuvers were part of a “grand scheme” of pump and dump, but little did investors knew that he was on the verge of bankruptcy after owing several millions. The accusations, therefore, were far from the truth.

He took it in his stride, believing that the truth will eventually prevail because according to a Chinese saying, “The rock will surface when the tide subsides”.

What Has He Been Up To?

He spent a lengthy period rebuilding, trying to make back what he lost by going back to what he knows best – in the electronics sector. For a long time, not much has been heard about him until March 2013 when an opportunity struck in the form of WE Holdings (renamed Accrelist Holdings in November 2016).

Terence was appointed Executive Chairman of the company on 12 March 2013, followed by the appointment as Executive Chairman of EG Industries Berhad since 18 July 2014. Concurrently, he also holds the position of non-executive Chairman of Jubilee Industries Holdings. All in all, he is the head honcho of three public listed companies – two listed on the Singapore Exchange and one listed in Bursa Malaysia.

Despite the ups and downs in his life, Terence did not forget his commitment to the community. He has been donating generously to his alma mater, Hong Wen Primary School. Apart from this, Terence is also the Chairman of the Eng Yong Tong Tay Si Association, Honorary Patron of the Singapore Productivity Association, Patron of Nee Soon East Constituency, Patron of Sembawang GRC, and an Advisory Committee Member of the River Valley High School.

He was awarded the Public Service Medal by the President of the Republic of Singapore, as well as the Long Service Award by Singapore’s Ministry of Education.

Emerging Victorious From Legal Tussle

Former partners turned foes? When Terence was helming the electronics firm, he invited Andy Lim, husband of Lim Hwee Hua (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2009), to occupy the non-executive Chairman role in the company. Little did he know that a dispute over money would land him in court facing Andy Lim, who is the plaintiff.

According to court documents filed 11 January 2016, the Honourable Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the Honourable Justice Tay Yong Kwang and the Honourable Justice Steven Chong allowed the appeal by Terence Tea and dismissed Andy Lim’s claim. In addition, Terence’s counterclaim of $155,724 was granted with interest at 5.33 percent.

Source: Excerpts from Case No. CA/CA/86/2015; Document No. CA/ORC 4/2016

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Bridge Over Troubled Water

All the past troubles that plagued Terence Tea is long over. Like a man on a mission, he is determined to show that he has learned from his past experiences and is keen to take the three listed companies under his charge to new heights.

For a start, Terence has been buying shares of Accrelist for the past few months chalking up a stake of 23.61 percent. In FY2016, he saved the company from liquidation by arranging, at the very last minute, a placement of new shares raising a sum of $7.5 million that was repaid to the creditor banks. Without this, Accrelist would have been history.

To start on a new footing, Terence believes in his new plans, which is to take the company on the digital/new economy path. In October 2017, the company announced that it would raise $4 million from investors via a placement exercise, of which proceeds would be used to support expansions in the areas of e-medical, WE Crowdfunding and WE Pay. Through the acquisition and increase in shareholding of Jubilee Industries, revenue skyrocketed from $627,000 in 1H2017 to $29 million in 1H2018.

Separately, Jubilee Industries has made a remarkable turnaround after being mired in losses. The company has been making acute decisions on acquisitions, resulting in a turnaround story when it registered an 83.7 percent jump in 1H2018 revenue to $88 million from $48 million in the previous corresponding period. Compared to losses of $2.7 million in the same period a year ago, Jubilee Industries returned to the black with an impressive profit of $808,000. This would not have been possible if Terence had not used his wide network of contacts and his deal-making abilities to raise funds for the acquisition of WE Components – the electronic component distribution arm of Jubilee Industries.

EG Industries Berhad has been consistent in making profits, whose latest revenue for 3Q2018 rose 5.6 percent to RM248 million from RM235 million while profit for the period inched up by 6.8 percent to RM7.6 million from RM7 million a year ago.

While some may doubt if Terence Tea can truly make a remarkable comeback, he has shown that he has accumulated wisdom and the ability to turn things around for companies under his stewardship. The performances of these three companies are a result of his hard work. Now is the time for him to prove that he can do even better.