UBS Banker Appeals HK Regulatory Action Over China Forestry IPO: Source

A senior banker at UBS Group AG is appealing against Hong Kong regulatory sanctions for his role in the 2009 initial public offering (IPO) of timber company China Forestry, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

The China Forestry deal is one of several floats being investigated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) as part of a wider probe into misconduct by banks sponsoring IPOs in the city.

Tian Cen, a managing director at UBS in Hong Kong, has filed an appeal with the city’s Securities and Futures Appeals Tribunal (SFAT), according to the SFAT’s website.

Cen was involved in the China Forestry IPO as one of the senior UBS investment bankers on the deal, another person with knowledge of the matter said.

The punishment suggested by the SFC has not been made public. However, according to a Bloomberg report, the regulator has proposed a suspension of Cen’s license.

China Forestry, whose shares have been suspended since 2011 and which is now being liquidated, raised $216 million in its IPO, which was jointly sponsored by UBS and Standard Chartered.

UBS is already fighting an 18-month suspension in Hong Kong from sponsoring IPOs related to its work for China Forestry as well as a HK$119 million ($15.18 million) fine.

The Hong Kong securities regulator has also acted against StanChart, details of which have not been disclosed by the bank. The British lender, which has filed a review application against the SFC decision, no longer has an IPO sponsorship license in the Asian financial hub.

In March this year, the SFAT granted UBS and StanChart an extension for their appeals against the SFC’s actions, but did not specify the reason for the punishments.

On Tuesday, the SFC said it had banned Joseph Hsu, a former executive at StanChart’s securities unit in Hong Kong, from re-entering the industry for three years from July 6 for not exercising due diligence in a 2009 listing application.

The SFC did not name the firm involved in Hsu’s ban, but said the punishment was related to its disciplinary action against StanChart and its co-sponsor for an IPO application.

The first source said the action against Hsu was related to China Forestry’s listing.

Representatives at SFC, StanChart, and UBS declined to comment. Cen did not respond to an email and a call. Hsu could not immediately be reached by Reuters for a comment.

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