Wang Shi, the founder and chairman of real estate developer China Vanke Co. Ltd. (02202.HK, 000002.CN), said he will step down from the board after a years-long power struggle saw the company fall under state control, Reuters reports.
The 66-year-old former government official and People’s Liberation Army veteran said it was time to hand over the reins of the company he founded in 1988 and built into a real estate powerhouse that rode on the back of China’s economic boom.
The move was widely expected after China Vanke was taken over by the Shenzhen government in March, ending a struggle for boardroom control and raising questions about to what extent the property giant would remain a market-driven company, the news agency said.
“I have decided not to be re-elected as Vanke’s director since the beginning of the discussion of a new board,” Wang wrote in his WeChat blog.
“Today, I’m handing the leadership to [President] Yu Liang. I believe it’s the best timing. They are younger but mature enough.”
A shareholder meeting to elect new board members will be held on June 30, and the company said it has nominated three senior executives of major shareholder Shenzhen Metro – its chairman, general manager and chief financial officer – as non-executive directors.
The leadership crisis began in late 2015 after financial conglomerate Baoneng Group launched its takeover bid and some disgruntled investors stepped up criticism that Wang was spending too much time studying at Harvard and Cambridge and not enough at the company.
The power struggle ended when Shenzhen Metro, a state-owned subway operator, gained control of the company earlier this month after it raised its stake to 29.38 percent.
Wang set up Vanke – now valued at US$34 billion – from an office equipment company and donated his shares to a charity early in its transformation into a private company.
His departure could be a positive for the company, which lost its title as the country’s biggest homebuilder to rival China Evergrande Group (03333.HK), as it removes the last element of the boardroom battle and appeases some investors, analysts said.
“The Wang Shi era has officially come to an end, but he stopped managing the company years ago so his departure will have no impact to the company’s operation,” CRIC Hong Kong head of research David Hong said.
Shenzhen Metro said in a statement it respects Wang’s decision and will continue to support Vanke’s mixed ownership.
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