Neil Bush is selling his minority stake in a Singapore property developer controlled by a long-time business partner and Bush family booster, according to a filing with the Singapore Exchange, with the younger brother of former US President George W Bush exiting SingHaiyi Group as its mysterious mainland Chinese boss privatises the company.
Bush has agreed to sell his 5.22 percent interest in SingHaiyi for S$25.74 million ($19 million) after a buyout offer from a private holding company controlled by Gordon Tang and his wife Celine Tang, who control the SGX-listed builder, won approval from a quorum of shareholders and paved the way for a mandatory offer for the remaining shares at S$0.117 each.
The agreement announced this week severs a link between Bush and a free-spending mainland investor who has been not only a business partner for the scion of one of America’s leading political dynasties, but who also received a $550,000 fine for making illicit campaign contributions to older brother Jeb Bush’s ill-fated 2016 presidential campaign.
George W Bush’s younger brother has been with Gordon Tang’s real estate firm since his appointment as non-executive chairman in 2013, the year the Tang couple took over SingXpress Land and renamed it to its current branding.
Directors Accept Buyout Offer
In the early years after the Tang family took over SingHaiyi, Neil Bush helped the firm acquire distressed properties across the US at a discounted price to take advantage of a troubled market still trying to recover from its crash during the 2008 global financial crisis.
For his services, the younger Bush received around S$250,000 ($184,620) for fiscal 2021 as his director’s fee, based on the group’s latest annual report, which is roughly similar to what he has been receiving yearly since 2014, according to available public records.
It remains uncertain whether Bush is keeping or relinquishing his position in the company as chairman and a non-executive director, with company representatives from SingHaiyi saying on Tuesday that “all appointments and cessations will be announced on SGXNet when available”.
Bush’s exit from SingHaiyi comes at the same time that two other non-executive directors also agreed to sell their stakes as part of the privatisation effort, including former Tuan Sing Holdings CEO David Hwang Soo Chin and Gn Hiang Meng, a former executive with Singapore’s UOB bank and its UOL property affiliate. Like Bush, both Hwang and Gn had first joined SingHaiyi’s board in 2013, with Hwang selling a S$175,000 stake while Gn has cashed out his S$87,750 interest.
In a document detailing the voluntary conditional buyout offer distributed on 10 December, SingHaiyi Group said that major stakeholders with a combined 78.37 percent stake, including the Tang family and Bush, had agreed irrevocably to accept the takeover bid based on company documents.
SingHaiyi, a S$492.8 million property developer managing a portfolio of residential and commercial assets including the twin 10-storey office towers at 9 Penang Road, is set to be de-listed from the Singapore Exchange on 10 January, with the Tang family noting that “privatising the Company will provide the Offeror with more flexibility to manage the business of the Company and its subsidiaries, optimise the use of its management and resources and facilitate the implementation of any operational change”.
Bush Still on Board with Tang’s APIC
Bush’s dealings with the Tangs advanced further after his family received political support from the couple, when the two made a $1.3 million donation in 2015 to his brother Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. The donation was coursed through American Pacific International Capital (APIC), a California-based firm investing in real estate across Asia and the US where Gordon Tang is chairman and Neil Bush remains a board member to this day, according to the company’s LinkedIn page.
That contribution was later proved to be illegal, compelling Neil Bush to pay what was reported at that time to be the third-biggest penalty in the US Federal Election Commission’s history.
In his past but unsuccessful dealings with other developers, Bush was involved in the infamous collapse of Colorado’s Silverado Savings and Loan in 1988 that caused the American government to shoulder over $1 billion in debts, with a 2003 Washington Post article pointing to his “fishy” deals when he was still part of the bank’s board.
Bush has been engaged in energy, real estate and international business development since the 1980s, when he set up two independent oil firms and joined other companies involved in real estate, including Hong Kong-listed holding firm Wisdom Wealth Resources Investment Holding Group Ltd, where he serves as a deputy chairman, and the Beijing-based CIIC, which he co-chairs.