* Media reports say co's baby formula tainted
* Reports: product causes premature sexual development
* Co refutes allegations; says will take legal action
* Shares fall as much as 35 pct
(Adds details from company's statement, updates share price)
Aug 9 Shares of Chinese baby-formula maker
Synutra International (SYUT.O) fell as much as 35 percent on
Monday after reports in Chinese media linking it to babies
developing premature sexual characteristics.
However, in a statement late Monday, the company denied the
allegations and said it was in the process of taking legal
action to protect its brand.
"We have worked closely with state authorities, including
the Chinese Dairy Association and the office of food safety, to
test product samples, to prove that these claims are false. We
expect that the results of these tests should be made public
soon," Synutra Chief Executive Liang Zhang said.
Earlier, state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times, quoting
a report from Beijing-based Health Times, said three babies
from Hubei province showed symptoms of breast development and
abnormal levels of female hormones.
The months-old infants had been fed baby-formula products
tagged with the same lot number produced by Synutra, Global
Times said, citing the earlier report.
Synutra, which sells its products in China, said it does
not add hormones to its products as suggested in the media
reports and has invested heavily in research, quality control,
formulations and ingredients.
In 2008, milk formula that was adulterated with melamine,
an industrial compound used in making plastics and fertilizer,
killed at least six toddlers and made almost 300,000 sick,
prompting Chinese-made products to be stripped from shelves
Shares of the company closed down 27 percent at $12.72
Monday on Nasdaq, after hitting a low of $11.24 earlier in the
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle and Shradhha Sharma in Bangalore;
Editing by Anthony Kurian)