Ezra Holdings: Succeeding in Succession

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FOO, See Liang; WONG, Adina
Singapore Management University
Ezra Holdings; family business; succession planning; Asian family business; leadership; business expansion; Teaching and Learning Scholarship; Accounting; Business; Corporate Governance, Auditing and Risk Management
case description
It was 30 December 2012, and Lee Kian Soon, the founder of Ezra Holdings Limited (Ezra), a Singapore-headquartered offshore oil and gas services company, was stepping down after 20 years as Executive Chairman of the company.Having been at the helm of the company for two decades since its founding, Lee had been instrumental in leading the business development, strategic planning and overall vision of the company. In 1992, Ezra had started off as a subcontractor in shipyards, and by 2012, had grown to become a US$984.2 million group in revenue, with activities encompassing marine and offshore support services and subsea construction.Although Ezra was a family-owned business, Lee was convinced that to enter the global stage and achieve its goals of internationalisation beyond the Asia-Pacific, the company would need someone with an experienced background who could provide the required leadership. On 31 December 2012, Ezra appointed an external candidate, Koh Poh Tiong, as the Chairman of its Board. Lee’s son, Lionel, who had been with the company for ten years, remained as Ezra’s Managing Director.Lee wondered if he was making the right move in appointing an external successor as Chairman, and what the implications were in choosing an external successor for the company.