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Exec chairman assisting in China's 'confidential' probe: Yangzijiang

YANGZIJIANG Shipbuilding (Holdings) on Wednesday said its executive chairman and controlling owner Ren Yuanlin is currently assisting in a confidential investigation carried out by "certain PRC governmental authorities" and since last Friday was granted a leave of absence by the board to focus on the matter.

"The intention of the leave of absence is to expedite the completion of the investigation so that he may resume his full-time duties with the group as soon as possible," said the company in response to queries from the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo). 

It added that up until Aug 9, Mr Ren had continued to have a decision-making role in major company matters, including recently approving the group's unaudited second-quarter financial results that were released over a week ago.

China's largest non-state owned shipbuilder also said that it has instructed Duane Morris & Selvam LLP to provide legal advice to the board and the company in relation to "rumours" about Mr Ren and the group that were spread on certain publications.

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Wednesday's disclosure finally clears the air on swirling market rumours last Thursday which had caused the blue-chip stock to tank by nearly 30 per cent, swiftly prompting a query from the stock exchange regulator, after which the company called for a trading halt.

Trading will resume on Thursday, Yangzijiang said.

Meanwhile, Ren Letian, who is group chief executive officer and alternate director to Mr Ren, will assume his father's role as a director in his absence.

Based on enquiries as well as legal advice, Yangzijiang said the board confirms that none of its directors, including Mr Ren Yuanlin nor its executive officers or any company in the group, is the subject matter of the investigation. None of them, apart from Mr Ren Yuanlin, has also been requested by any PRC governmental authorities to assist or be involved in the investigation.

It added that the group's businesses and operations are unaffected by the investigation and Mr Ren's leave of absence. "...it is business as usual for the group's businesses and operations," said the company.

Furthermore, it said its unit Jingjiang Runyuan Rural Micro-finance Co Ltd continues to operate its financing business.

"The company reserves the right to commence any proceedings and take any actions for any and all causes of action arising from any falsehoods spread in order to protect the reputation of the group and its directors," Yangzijiang added.