China lighting company NVC seeks removal of CEO, alleging misconduct

HONG KONG Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:14am EDT

HONG KONG Aug 20 (Reuters) - Chinese lighting manufacturer NVC Lighting Holding Ltd said on Wednesday it was taking emergency measures following its chief executive's refusal to step down after its board of directors adopted a resolution calling on him to quit.

NVC alleges CEO Wu Changjiang secretly signed licensing agreements on behalf of a company subsidiary. NVC did not disclose any details of the deals.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, NVC said Wu "unreasonably and without legal basis" refused to comply with the board and his actions are having an adverse effect on the company. The company said it was declaring an "emergency situation", and that a previously announced three-member emergency committee was now empowered to act on behalf of the board.

Shares in NVC, worth $714.5 million by market value, were suspended indefinitely on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Aug. 11. The company is due to hold a shareholder meeting in Hong Kong on Aug. 29 where investors will vote on a resolution to remove Wu from his posts at NVC.

Wu vigorously denied allegations of any wrongdoing on his Weibo microblog account on Wednesday. Wu's assistant said he was too busy to comment directly, following repeated telephone calls and messages seeking comment.

This is the third time Wu has quit or faced removal from his role as head of NVC, whose shareholders include $3.5 billion Chinese private equity firm SAIF Partners and French electrical systems supplier Schneider Electric SE.

NVC said in its statement it was suspending operations in Chongqing and establishing a temporary headquarters in Huizhou.

The company alleged earlier this month that in 2012, Wu Changjiang licensed NVC brands on behalf of a company subsidiary for a 20-year period, without informing or seeking permission from the board of directors.

Wu has deep ties with NVC. In the prospectus for company's initial public offering in 2010, he was listed as a founder having served as chairman, chief executive and an executive director. He is currently the fourth-biggest shareholder of NVC, with a 2.6 percent holding, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The executive first resigned in May 2012, before being re-appointed on a three-year contract in January 2013. He also resigned in 2005 following a disagreement with shareholders.

SAIF Partners declined to comment. Schneider Electric could not immediately be reached for comment.

(1 US dollar = 6.1395 Chinese yuan)

(Additional reporting by Matthew Miller in BEIJING and the BEIJING Newsroom; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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