Fri, Mar 11, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Chairman of GOME quits after surviving ouster bid in feud

POWER STRUGGLE:The company’s jailed founder, Huang Guangyu, seems to have won in a contest with the executives who replaced him in GOME’s boardroom

AFP, HONG KONG

Chinese electrical appliance giant GOME (國美) said its chairman Chen Xiao (陳曉) had resigned with effect from yesterday, five months after he survived a bid to oust him in a bitter feud with the firm’s jailed founder.

The company had been embroiled in a power struggle between its board members and founder Huang Guangyu (黃光裕) — once China’s richest man — who was jailed in May last year for 14 years on bribery and insider-trading charges.

GOME said in a statement that Zhang Dazhong (張大中), founder of appliances retail chain Beijing Dazhong Electrical Appliances Co (大中電器), would succeed Chen, who was resigning “for family reasons.”

Zhang sold his firm to GOME in December 2007 for 3.6 billion yuan (US$550 million).

Since his jailing, Huang had waged a high-profile war from his cell against company executives, calling for his allies to be installed on GOME’s board and its chairman to be sacked — but both proposals were rejected by shareholders in September.

A sign of a possible resolution to the row came two months later when Hong Kong-listed GOME Electrical Appliances (國美電器) announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Huang’s Shinning Crown Holdings to appoint two non-executive directors picked by Shinning Crown to the board.

GOME said in its statement on Wednesday that Zhang was joining the board as a non-executive director and also named accountant Conway Lee (李港衛) as an independent non-executive director.

Huang’s imprisonment marked a spectacular fall from grace in a case that also ensnared several top Chinese police officials. He has stepped down from the board, but remains the company’s single biggest shareholder.

Beijing’s High Court freed Huang’s wife, Du Juan (杜鵑), on parole in August after commuting her three-year prison term for insider trading, but upheld his sentence. Huang was also fined 800 million yuan (US$120 million).

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