Monday, December 27, 2010

Tension rises at FCC over public dismissal

APUBLIC spat between senior figures within the parent company of the FCC group of businesses, which erupted over the sacking of a chief executive officer, remained unresolved Tuesday following a meeting between senior board members in Phnom Penh.

The disagreement has arisen over the dismissal of Raphael Guillien, chief operating officer of Food and Beverage Solutions Co Ltd (FABS), the company responsible for running the operational side of the FCC group.

His dismissal was announced publicly in an advertisement taken out in the Post Monday that was authorised by Steve Haywood, the founder and executive chairman of Indochina Assets Ltd (IAL), which oversees the operations of FABS.

“I’m very, very concerned about many of our staff here and that’s creating a lot of pressure on the FCC, mainly from overseas shareholders who don’t understand the difficulties of doing business in Cambodia,” Haywood said, referring to his decision to remove Guillien.

However, a subsequent advertisement titled “Notice of Correction of Information concerning FABS and CIAL” taken out in the Post Tuesday by Mark Ashall, chairman of the board of FABS Co Ltd, said Guillien had not been sacked.

Mr Ashall was unavailable for comment Tuesday but his investment adviser from law firm Sciaroni & Associates, Matthew Rendall, said Haywood was unauthorised to sack Guillien without the authorisation of the IAL board.

“In order for FABS to do that, all executive decisions have to be done at the board level of IAL and there’s been no decision to change Raphael’s position by IAL,” Rendall said.

The man at the centre of the dispute, Guillien, declined to comment extensively on the situation Tuesday but said it was clear from the meeting that his dismissal had been unauthorised.

“I think that’s pretty clear when you read [the minutes from] today that the chairman has said what was done yesterday was not authorised,” he told the Post.

Confusion over the issue, however, is rife, because of the complex relationship between the group of companies involved and contradictory claims about the outcome of today’s meeting by the opposing sides.

Haywood strongly rejected any suggestion that his decision to dismiss Guillien had been overturned at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I would challenge anyone to argue that the decision hasn’t been ratified to not have Raphael work anymore,” he said, adding that the decision to sack Guillien had been in no way personal.

The FCC group includes a long list of high-end businesses in the Kingdom, including FCC Phnom Penh, FCC Siem Reap, The Quay, Chow, Pacharan, Café Fresco and Visaya Spa.

Haywood said the dispute had triggered attempts to buy out stakeholders within the company. “There’s been offers either way to buy each other out and I’m pushing hard to buy the others out.”


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