Billionaire Cheng Family Seeks to Oust Giordano CEO After Failed Buyout

The family of Hong Kong’s third-richest person is seeking to remove Peter Lau from his role as chief executive officer of Giordano International Ltd. following a failed attempt to acquire the clothing company two years ago.

The family of Henry Cheng, Giordano’s top shareholder with a stake of about 24.1 percent, wants to appoint Colin Currie, whose previous roles include China managing director of Adidas AG, to the job, according to a stock exchange filing Monday.

They also want to appoint two of Henry’s children, Sonia and Christopher, as non-executive directors of the board. The Giordano board is seeking legal advice on appropriate follow-up actions, the firm said.

Giordano’s shares fell as much as 7.4 percent Tuesday morning, the most in almost a month, before paring losses to 4.9 percent.

Giordano has long been in the Cheng family’s sights. In 2022, they offered to buy the remaining shares of the retailer for a maximum cash consideration of HK$2.56 billion ($327 million), but the deal failed when less than half of the company’s shareholders approved it. Local media including HK01 reported at the time that Lau, who’s also Giordano’s chairman and a significant shareholder, said he rejected the deal because he wasn’t in need of cash.

Giordano was founded in 1981 by now-jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who later sold his entire stake in the company to focus on his news empire. The company has grown into one of the biggest Hong Kong fashion brands, with 1,798 stores as of mid-2023 across markets including Greater China, South Korea, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

The company is expected to report as much as HK$345 million in profit for the year through December, up 29 percent from a year earlier, it said in a filing last month.

The Chengs have found themselves in the spotlight in recent months as a succession saga plays out publicly. Adrian, 44, was widely seen as the most likely candidate to take over the family’s sprawling $24 billion empire but has faced growing uncertainty about his status following comments from his father about still looking for a successor.

Adrian is CEO of real estate developer New World Development Co., while Sonia, 43, is a joint vice-chairman for Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. Their brother Christopher, 34, is an executive director at NWS.

By Shirley Zhao

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