18 March 2019
Country Garden CFO Wu Jianbin wants to devote more time to photography and writing. Photo: Bloomberg
Country Garden CFO Wu Jianbin wants to devote more time to photography and writing. Photo: Bloomberg

Senior management changes are not always bad news

Given precedents like Kaisa Group Holdings (01638.HK) and Greentown China Holdings (03900.HK), key personnel changes in listed companies are usually an early sign of trouble and can easily spook investors.

But some senior management reshuffles have nothing to with a firm’s performance or prospects.

Country Garden Holdings (02007.HK), China’s third-largest property developer by sales, said on Wednesday its chief financial officer Wu Jianbin has resigned. He will also step down as executive director.

Wu, 53, wants to “devote more time to his personal interests”, which are photography and writing, Country Garden said.

The executive is known as a keen amateur photographer, and he is also very much into novels.  For people who know him, the announcement shouldn’t come a surprise.

He has held photo exhibits about life in Hong Kong, and his pictures on the life of herdsmen in Ataly, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, have won him an award at Taipei’s Wonder Foto Day.

It’s probably easier for Wu to achieve work-life balance and find time for his hobbies when he was working for state-owned companies.

But his job at Country Garden, a private-sector property firm with over 300 billion yuan (US$43.32 billion) in assets, is understandably more demanding. For one thing, the company is constantly in need of financing.

Wu has nearly three decades of experience in the real estate business.

He joined China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd. (601668.CN) after graduating from Shaanxi Institute of Finance and Economics in 1984, and was sent to China Overseas Land & Investment (00688.HK) three years later.

He had been the firm’s executive director and chief financial officer since 2002, untilYang Guoqiang, the founder and chairman of Country Garden, poached him from China Overseas Land & Investment in 2014.

It’s fair to say that Wu has had a pretty successful career and deserves to have a more relaxed life.

Separately, Dah Chong Hong Holdings (01828.HK) said on Tuesday that its chief executive, Yip Moon-tong, will retire this year at the age of 65 to spend more time with his family.

The company issued a statement with nearly 400 words, describing Yip’s contributions to the company over the last 25 years.

There are nearly 2,000 listed companies in Hong Kong. Seldom does a day go by without senior management changes being announced in some of them.

Most companies cite personal reasons or a new work arrangement for the changes. So it’s not always a big deal.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 6.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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An example of Wu Jianbin’s photography. In a Weibo post, Wu said people are his favorite subjects, and a good portrait can capture a person’s soul. Photo:

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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