* Wison chairman had been helping Chinese authorities with
* Chairman now no longer reachable, company says
* A second executive also helping with the investigation
* Wison shares suspended since early Sept
By Donny Kwok and Charlie Zhu
HONG KONG, Sept 19 Wison Engineering Services Co
Ltd, a major PetroChina supplier, said Chinese
authorities investigating the company had seized records and
temporarily frozen some of its bank accounts, adding it was no
longer able to contact its chairman.
Shanghai-based Wison had previously said chairman and
founder Hua Bangsong had been assisting authorities in an
unspecified investigation, which coincides with a probe into oil
giant PetroChina and its parent, China
National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).
In a statement, Wison said Zhao Hongbin, manager of the
finance department of the company's unit, Wison Engineering
Limited, was also assisting in the investigation. It said it was
not aware of the nature of the probe.
In separate filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Wison
said executive director and chief financial officer, Chen
Wenfeng, as well as Choy Sze Chung, independent non-executive
director and chairman of the audit committee, had resigned to
pursue other business opportunities.
"Frozen bank accounts is never a good thing... Tends to
inhibit one's ability to pay bills etc and causes your
subcontractors to worry," said Simon Powell, head of Asian oil
and gas research at CLSA in Hong Kong.
Shares in Wison - which has derived most of its revenue from
PetroChina in recent years - have been suspended in Hong Kong
since early September, when the company first said Hua was
helping authorities with the unspecified investigation.
They had fallen 30 percent after the Chinese government
announced the investigation into several former top executives
at PetroChina and CNPC in late August. Authorities have not
announced any details of that investigation.
"Not surprisingly, the stock remains suspended. The 'petro
purge' continues," added Powell.
MAY APPOINT ACTING CHAIRMAN
The investigations follow a pledge by President Xi Jinping
to crack down on rampant corruption in China, which he says
threatens the ruling Communist Party's survival.
Wison said last week it would consider appointing an acting
chairman in the wake of the turmoil at the company, which offers
consulting, engineering and construction services to
petrochemical and refining projects.
"As part of their investigations, the regulatory authorities
made enquires about certain projects of the group, (have) taken
books and records and frozen certain bank accounts of the
group," Wison said in the statement.
"The company was not told the reason for freezing our bank
accounts. After the company's communication with the regulatory
authorities, some of the frozen bank accounts have been
released," Wison said.
According to its filings with the Hong Kong stock exchange,
Hua, 47, founded the company in 1997 and built it into China's
largest private petrochemical contractor thanks largely to
revenue from PetroChina, one of the world's most valuable energy
Since 2002, Wison has won numerous engineering, procurement
and construction contracts for PetroChina's petrochemical and
refining projects in a sector dominated by state-owned
Between 2009 and 2011 for example, Wison booked 8.1 billion
yuan ($1.32 billion) in revenue from PetroChina, according to
filings, accounting for the majority of its revenue over that
Wison has said it won the contracts because of its technical
capabilities, experienced team and track record. Many of its
senior staff are Chinese oil industry veterans, some of whom
used to work for PetroChina, according to its website.
After nearly a decade of relying of PetroChina for work,
Wison appears to have diversified. From 2012, its revenue from
PetroChina has been minimal, amounting to just 111.1 million
yuan in the first half of this year, or 5.6 percent of the
PetroChina's operations span the globe, from oil production
facilities and pipelines to refineries and petrochemical