LeEco's Jia Yueting steps down as CEO of main listed unit

The management shake-up in LeEco's Shenzhen-listed arm is a signal that investors are getting impatient for a turnaround at the financially beleaguered Chinese internet company, despite a US$2 billion cash injection from investors at the beginning of the year, according to analysts.

Jia, who is continuing as chairman of Leshi and remains the CEO of the bigger LeEco group, said he will "focus on the governance, strategic planning and core product innovation" of LeEco's listed units. Leshi also said that its chief financial officer Yang Lijie is resigning for personal reasons and will be replaced by Zhang Wei, its China CFO. The company is a part of Yueting's larger business empire known as LeEco.

Jia is to remain chairman to devise longer-term strategies and oversee a corporate revamp meant to improve transparency - an area in which Jia admitted LeEco has been lacking.

Sun Hongbin, chairman of Sunac, which invested RMB15.04 billion (US$2.18 billion) in LeEco in January to bring the company back from brink, told reporters last month that changes were coming.

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Sunac also holds a 15% stake in film production company Leshi Pictures, and 33.5% of Leshi Zhixin, LeEco's smart Internet TV unit. Jia will be replaced by Liang Jun, who joined LeShi in 2012 after a stint as an executive at Lenovo Group. The activist fund was more concerned with Jia's expansion into electric cars than his handling of the LeShi streaming service. Jia will remain chairman.

Fok declined to comment on whether there could be a boardroom struggle between Leshi and its investor Sunac, but acknowledged that in every organisation, struggles and different points of view between the executive team are not uncommon especially when the company is facing difficulties. That said, if Jia is stepping down from his leadership role at LeShi in order to focus on trickier dealings like electric cars at other parts of LeEco, then it could be a positive step.

However, in the short term the management restructuring could be viewed negatively by shareholders and could affect Leshi's stock price, he said. Local media reported that the company is preparing for over 1,000 jobs cut across its businesses. The previous year it made a 70 million yuan profit.


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