THE Soup Restaurant Group-Dian Xiao Er legal tussle might have been put to rest with a settlement earlier this year, but a turf war appears to have erupted over real estate at VivoCity. Soup's wholly owned subsidiary - Soup Restaurant (Causeway Point) - has started legal proceedings to get Y.E.S. F & B Group Pte Ltd (YES) to vacate a unit in VivoCity.
YES owns and operates the Dian Xiao Er chain and is a sub-tenant of the Soup subsidiary's. Both Dian Xiao Er and Soup each have a branch listed as two units apart from one another on VivoCity's directory. Dian Xiao Er's branch also occupies two adjoining units in VivoCity that are not the subject of this legal action.
While the unit number in contention is listed as Soup's on the VivoCity directory, BT understands that at least some of it currently forms a small part of the Dian Xiao Er outlet.
Now, Soup Restaurant (Causeway Point) - the tenant for the unit - is asking the Subordinate Courts to make YES - the sub-tenant - vacate the premises.
Soup Restaurant Group (Soup) is claiming that based on a settlement agreement between itself and YES in June this year, YES's sub-tenancy had expired on Oct 6, 2012.
"However, (YES) failed to, inter alia, deliver vacant possession of the sub- leased premises thereof," Soup said in a statement yesterday.
An October 2009 document that BT saw stated that YES had sublet "a part" of the unit in contention with "consent from the landlord". One of the clauses stated that, "This agreement shall survive as long as (Soup Restaurant (Causeway Point)'s lease with the landlord is not terminated."
The names of the landlord and its trustee in the sub-lease agreement that BT saw, however, are different from the ones listed by Soup in its SGX filing yesterday.
In response to BT's query, a spokesman for Soup said: "The sub-lease is irrelevant. The dispute between the shareholders of (Dian Xiao Er) had been settled by a settlement agreement dated 14 June 2012, which specified that the sub-lease in dispute expires on 6 Oct 2012. This date was agreed to by all parties. Despite this, (Dian Xiao Er) has refused to vacate the premises."
When contacted, Yik Kuen Koon, the managing director of YES, said: "We don't think we are wrong. We intend to let the court decide."
Long before this tussle over shop space started, Soup had held the majority stake in YES. The remainder of YES was held by Mr Yik and his wife, Eliza Gunawan. They had sued Soup claiming minority oppression, but the lawsuit was settled out of court earlier this year with the couple buying out Soup's stake in YES for $7.9019 million.
In the process, the couple gained complete ownership of YES - and by extension - Dian Xiao Er, which they had founded. According to its website, Dian Xiao Er has eight outlets in Singapore, including the one at VivoCity.
In the latest tussle over unit space at VivoCity, Soup's subsidiary is also claiming "damages in respect of the unauthorised holding over of the sub-leased premises" in addition to being given "vacant possession" of the unit in question.
Soup does not expect the proceedings to have a material impact on its net tangible assets or earnings per share for the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2012.
"The company will keep the shareholders informed of the progress of the matter and make further announcements as and when appropriate," it said yesterday.