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Kelon Gets Fined for Accounting Fraud
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Guangdong Kelon Electric Co, once a leading home-appliance manufacturer, has been fined 600,000 yuan (US$75,000) by the securities regulator for fraudulent accounting between 2002 and 2004.


The company's top management were also given fines of between 50,000 yuan (US$6,250) to 300,000 yuan (US$37,500).


Kelon was once one of China's most admired companies because of its smartly designed refrigerators, but was thrust into crisis when the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) began its investigation in May 2005.


The firm was investigated after a 60-million-yuan (US$7.5 million) deficit in its 2004 annual report aroused widespread suspicion. Its former chairman Gu Chujun and six other senior executives were arrested in September.


Kelon warned investors of potential risks when the company's A shares saw a 10 percent increase for two consecutive days after resuming trading on July 3.


The company hasn't revealed its 2005 annual report, which is expected to see a 50 percent increase in losses compared with 2004. If Kelon fails to release its first-quarter report of 2006 after August 31, the company will be de-listed from September 1, according to a statement it filed to the stock exchange.


According to Sun Yong, an analyst with China Galaxy Securities, the shares jump is mainly a short-term speculative behavior.


Kelon's A shares closed at 2.71 yuan (34 US cents) yesterday, up 1.5 percent on the previous day, outperforming the Shenzhen stock exchange, which dropped 1.25 percent.


"The price has been on the high side, given the current situation of Kelon, a debt-ridden company," Sun told China Daily. "However, as the ongoing restructuring of Hisense and Kelon is expected to finish soon, Kelon's prospects may turn out to be rosy if the restructuring moves on smoothly."


Qingdao-based Hisense has secured a 26.43 percent stake in home appliance manufacturer Guangdong Kelon Electrical Holdings for 680 million yuan (US$84.9 million), becoming its largest shareholder, Kelon said in a statement in April.


Hisense earlier offered to acquire the stake with 900 million yuan (US$112 million) in cash, and later decided to reduce the price because auditing firms had found Kelon's assets to be much lower than that amount even with liabilities.


"The acquisition gives Hisense economies of scale in an industry where overcapacity has driven down prices," an analyst with CITIC Securities told China Daily. "Besides, Hisense wants to make a breakthrough in refrigerator and air-conditioner manufacturing, both of which are Kelon's strong points."


Hisense will more than double its annual production capacity of air conditioners to 7 million and boost its refrigerator capacity six-fold to 9.6 million, according to the company's website.


Moreover, for Hisense, a Shandong-based company, taking over Kelon could strengthen its presence in South China.


Hisense started out as a maker of goods such as TV sets, but recently turned its attention to the white goods business. However, it has only two air-conditioner production lines in Qingdao, in East China's Shandong Province, and Huzhou, in East China's Zheijiang Province.


After its acquisition of Beijing Xuehua Refrigerator and Nanjing Bole Refrigerator in the past two years, it now owns two refrigerator production lines.


Experts believe that Hisense will soon restructure its refrigerator and air-conditioner production lines by combining all of its relevant assets and marketing resources into "Kelon Electric."


Hisense would then boast two public companies handling appliances such as televisions (Hisense Electric) and white goods (Kelon Electric).


(China Daily July 6, 2006)


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