Chongqing Brewery Chairman Under Fire

   Date:2011-12-26     Source:puchangpingxyw

SHANGHAI—Chongqing Brewery Co.,Ltd. which is nearly 30% owned by Denmark's Carlsberg A/S, said Wednesday one of its major shareholders is requesting that the company's chairman be dismissed following recent sharp declines in its stock price.

The Chinese brewer has come under fire since it said on Dec. 8 that a hepatitis vaccine it had spent more than a decade developing was found to be ineffective. The company spent 100 million yuan, or about $16 million, developing the drug.

Chongqing Brewery said in a statement that Dacheng Fund Management Co., which owns a more than 10% stake, has called for a shareholder meeting on Feb. 7 to take up its proposal that the brewer's chairman, Huang Minggui, be removed from the post.

Mr. Huang, 61, became chairman in 2007 and his tenure is scheduled to end in April 2013.

Shares of Chongqing Brewery rose 0.7% to 31.61 yuan Wednesday following the statement, after falling 61% in the previous nine sessions. The decline has exerted pressure on the company's major shareholders. For example, the market value of Carlsberg's stake has declined by 7.2 billion yuan since Dec. 8.

"Chongqing Brewery did a bad job disclosing information and it did nothing to cope with the (share price) crisis, which has severely harmed our investors' interest," a spokeswoman at Dacheng said. "As the chairman, Huang should take responsibility."

Dacheng's holdings in Chongqing Brewery account for about 2% of the total assets the fund manages.

Chongqing Brewery acquired a pharmaceutical company, Chongqing Jiachen Bioengineering Co., in 1998, a year after its initial public offering in Shanghai, as part of a plan to develop a hepatitis B drug. The business was attractive to investors because domestic surveys showed that nearly 10% of China's 1.3 billion people could suffer from the illness.

"The vaccine story steered the regional brewer far away from its fundamentals, so its shares had traded at an exaggerated premium to its big rivals such as Tsingtao Beer," said Qiu Yanying, an analyst at TX Investment. "The removal of the chairman might not help in preventing further declines in its stock."

Carlsberg obtained a 17.46% stake in Chongqing Brewery through its acquisition in 2008 of part of Scottish & Newcastle PLC, and it raised its stake in the Chinese brewer to 29.71% for $349 million at 40.22 yuan each last year.

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