Temasek President Lee Sues to Shut Primus Over Rent Dues

Lee Theng Kiat, president of Temasek Holdings Pte, sued the Singapore unit of Primus Pacific Partners Ltd., a Hong Kong-based private-equity firm, seeking to shutter the unit for failing to pay rent on a bungalow.

Primus Ventures (Singapore) Pte owes Lee and his wife S$67,802 ($53,840) in unpaid rent, according to papers filed with the Singapore High Court. Primus Pacific is led by founding partners Huan Guocang, HSBC Holdings Plc’s former China investment banking head, and Ng Wing-Fai, who was managing director at Taiwan’s Fubon Financial Holding Co., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company “should be wound up on the ground that it is unable to pay its debts,” according to Lee’s winding up petition. A closed hearing is scheduled for April 13.

Primus Ventures breached a two-year tenancy agreement on the seven-bedroom property when it didn’t pay the monthly rent of S$35,000 from October through December, according to the complaint. In February, the firm paid part of the S$135,638 the Singapore court ordered it to pay Lee. Similar houses in the Cornwall Gardens area have sold for S$20 million.

Contact details for Primus Ventures couldn’t be located through the Internet or directory assistance. Five calls and three e-mails to Primus Pacific in Hong Kong seeking comment weren’t returned. Lee declined to comment.

Primus Pacific owns almost all of Primus Ventures, which is listed as a “live” company, according to records filed with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

Three Presidents

Lee, 59, was appointed president and general counsel of Temasek, Singapore’s state-owned investment company on April 1. Lee is one of three presidents at Temasek, which managed S$193 billion as of March 31, 2011. The others are John Cryan and Gregory Curl.

Primus Ventures also failed to use the premises and furniture in a “careful manner,” according to the complaint. The couple estimated it would cost them about S$38,800 to fix defects including faulty lighting- and fan-fixtures, and hiring professional cleaners, according to the court papers.

Lee and his wife have owned the house, located on 2,005 square meters (21,580 square feet) of land, since 2004, according to records with the Singapore Land Authority. The property has a swimming pool, koi pond, garage, and a guest house, the court papers show. A similar sized property in the neighborhood would cost at least S$20 million, according to home sales lodged in the past two years with the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Primus Financial Holdings Ltd. together with China Strategic Holdings Ltd. in 2010 had its $2.15 billion bid for American International Group Inc.’s Taiwan unit rejected by the island’s regulators. Primus Financial was set up in 2009 and managed by Robert Morse, a former Citigroup Inc. Asia investment banking chief, and Primus Pacific’s Huan and Ng.

Huan on March 12 quit the board of Hong Kong-listed New China Life Insurance Co., citing a change of “work arrangement.”

The cases are Lee Theng Kiat v Primus Ventures (Singapore) Pte CWU 41/2012 and S14/2012 in the Singapore High Court.

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