PetroChina supplier Wison says records seized, can't contact chairman

Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:09pm EDT
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By Donny Kwok and Charlie Zhu

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Wison Engineering Services Co Ltd (2236.HK: Quote), a major PetroChina supplier, said Chinese authorities investigating the company had seized records and temporarily frozen some of its bank accounts, adding it was no longer able to contact its chairman.

Shanghai-based Wison had previously said chairman and founder Hua Bangsong had been assisting authorities in an unspecified investigation, which coincides with a probe into oil giant PetroChina (601857.SS: Quote)(0857.HK: Quote) and its parent, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).

In a statement, Wison said Zhao Hongbin, manager of the finance department of the company's unit, Wison Engineering Limited, was also assisting in the investigation. It said it was not aware of the nature of the probe.

In a separate filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Wison said executive director and chief financial officer, Chen Wenfeng, had resigned to pursue other business opportunities.

"I think it's serious. Frozen bank accounts is never a good thing... Tends to inhibit one's ability to pay bills etc and causes your subcontractors to worry," said Simon Powell, head of Asian oil and gas research at CLSA in Hong Kong.

Shares in Wison - which has derived most of its revenue from PetroChina in recent years - have been suspended in Hong Kong since early September, when the company first said Hua was helping authorities with the unspecified investigation.

They had fallen 30 percent after the Chinese government announced the investigation into several former top executives at PetroChina and CNPC in late August. Authorities have not announced any details of that investigation.

"Not surprisingly, the stock remains suspended. The 'petro purge' continues," added Powell.   Continued...

A security guard patrols outside Wison Engineering Services Co Ltd, in Shanghai September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song