The rise and fall of CC Puan
FOR a man with tall claims of having created a tech unicorn before hitting 40 years of age, Puan Chan Cheong’s corporate career has been dealt a stunning blow following the High Court’s issuance of a bankruptcy order two months ago.
Better known as CC Puan, the self-made technopreneur is said to have left the country as the shares of companies related to him — Green Packet Bhd and G3 Global Bhd — have tumbled. Both are penny stocks and the market capitalisation of the companies are a fraction of what they were two years ago.
Puan ended up on the wrong side of a civil suit taken up by Medinis Sdn Bhd and Everegion Sdn Bhd. He had failed to pay a combined sum of RM30.66 million to the two companies in a deal that was tied to his shareholding in G3 Global.
The 53-year-old resigned from his position as group managing director of Green Packet on Jan 31, saying that he wanted to devote more time to personal matters. He was supposed to buy a block of shares in G3 Global from Green Packet, but his shareholding in G3 Global is now unclear.
At the time of writing, Puan is said to have left the country.
He was also said to have left the country in October 2016. At that time, it was for a spiritual sojourn at a monastery in Nepal.
Two years earlier in October 2014, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) had purchased P1 from Green Packet for RM350 million, with a further RM210 million capital injection via newly issued redeemable bonds. The transaction was a major deal for Green Packet, of which Puan was the chief executive and major shareholder.
The transaction with TM required Puan to be part of the former’s team. Puan was head of the Packet1 unit in TM for two years, after which he left the telco.
After leaving TM, Puan went to a monastery in Nepal. He had told those who were close to him that he did not communicate with anyone for one month while he was there.
“CC’s family was worried. He spoke to them after a month and returned after three months,” says an executive close to Puan.
Puan shot to fame following the listing of Green Packet in 2005. By 2007, the company’s market capitalisation had surpassed US$1 billion. The valuation earned him the bragging rights of having created the first tech unicorn in Malaysia.
He returned to the corporate scene in 2018 during the Pakatan Harapan rule. In 2019, he went back to Green Packet as group managing director and CEO.
He eventually became close to people in the Pakatan Harapan administration, particularly the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), sources say.
Puan was part of an entourage that followed the then-prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to China. It was during this trip that he came up with the idea of setting up an artificial intelligence (AI) park in Malaysia.
In relation to the AI park, Puan was to emerge as a shareholder in G3 Global through Green Packet. He had plans to change the direction of G3 Global, turning it into a profitable Internet of Things (IoT) player from a loss-making jeans maker. G3 Global diversified into the information and communications technology (ICT) business in December 2015 via the acquisition of Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd, formerly known as VLT Wholesales Sdn Bhd. Atilze, now the ICT arm of G3 Global, is an IoT service solutions provider, as well as supplier of IoT and connected objects hardware devices.
In April 2019, G3 Global said it had inked a memorandum of understanding with SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) to set up the first AI park in Malaysia.
The three parties were supposed to invest around US$1 billion in the project. The objective of the AI park was to create a platform for the development of AI solutions in the areas of computer vision, speech recognition, natural language and humanoid/robot.
G3 Global’s valuation hit a high of close to RM700 million two years ago on the back of speculation that it would get the mandate from the government to take over Teknologi Park Malaysia (TPM). However, it did not turn out to be the case.
Last year, Puan was also in the race to buy Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s stake in SilTerra Malaysia Sdn Bhd. His partner was a company from China. But they failed to clinch the deal.
The rise and fall of CC Puan