HK shares of Birmingham City football club owner dive on resumption after two-year halt

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The Hong Kong-listed owner of English football club Birmingham City lost nearly a third of its value on Monday as the stock resumed trading after a near two-year suspension over a financial scandal that saw ex-chairman Carson Yeung jailed.

Shares in Birmingham International Holdings Ltd skidded as much as 45 percent when trading opened, hitting a record low of HK$0.51 before rebounding. At midday break, the shares were down 28 percent at HK$0.62 each, valuing the firm at about $328 million (269.71 million pounds).

Hong Kong businessman Yeung’s story has been seen as something of a cautionary tale for investors amid a broad push into the international football business by big-name Chinese firms like Dalian Wanda.

Yeung was sentenced to six years in a Hong Kong jail in March 2014 after being convicted of money-laundering involving some HK$721 million ($93 million). Since then, Birmingham has restructured and brought in new investors: Hong Kong businessman Paul Suen agreed in June to buy around 60 percent of the firm, and Yeung’s stake has been cut to below 7 percent from about 28 percent.

As part of the restructuring, the company also appointed Zhao Wenqing as chairman and chief executive officer, while six former directors have resigned.

Birmingham said in a securities filing on Oct. 14 that police were still investigating at least HK$37.5 million of missing funds, of which HK$35.25 million was suspected to be misappropriated by a former employee. It didn’t disclose the name of the employee in question.

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Kenneth Maxwell