China Investors Face Wake-Up Call in Sound Global (967 HK) Slide After Audit Issues Flagged and Independent NED and Chairman of Audit Committee Resigns

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-01/china-investors-face-wake-up-call-in-sound-global-slide

China Investors Face Wake-Up Call in Sound Global Slide

byLianting Tu

April 1, 2015

(Bloomberg) — A Beijing-based water treatment company is fueling concern about corporate-governance risks in China as its bonds fall by a record after it flagged potential audit issues.

Sound Global Ltd.’s U.S. currency 2017 notes slid 22.3 cents to 68 cents on the dollar as of 5:10 p.m. in Hong Kong after it said in a filing Tuesday that audit work will be continued as issues are not resolved. The debentures have tumbled from 108 cents at the beginning of the year, after research firm Emerson Analytics Co. alleged in February Sound Global exaggerated revenue.

Global investors are scrutinizing Chinese companies, the world’s biggest corporate debtors, for default risks amid the slowest economic growth since 1990 and President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on financial wrongdoing. A year after the nation’s first onshore bond default, Internet firm Cloud Live Technology Group Co. faces a note payment this weekend after flagging “big uncertainties” over its ability to meet the obligation.

“There have been a number of problems with Chinese companies and investors are now very wary of any perceived malfeasance,” said Charles Macgregor, the head of high-yield research at Lucror Analytics. “This is a wake up call for investors in Chinese companies that they cannot rely on independent directors and auditors to be diligent in their duty of care to investors.”

Sound Global said Tuesday that independent non-executive director Wong See Meng, who was also the chairman of the audit committee, had resigned on March 26 “due to family and personal commitments.”

Gao Song, the head of corporate finance at Sound Global in Beijing, said he couldn’t comment before it releases earnings.

The company, whose shares in Hong Kong are suspended, said Tuesday it was delaying publication of its results and was setting up an independent review committee to look into issues with independent advisers.

Sound Global on Feb. 13 published a response to Emerson, saying the Feb. 4 report was “seriously misleading, groundless and full of hyperboles and logic flaws.”

“We do not believe that the issues with Sound Global are recent,” Lucror Analytics’ Macgregor said. “It seems the report by Emerson Analytics may have sparked closer examination by the independent directors and auditors.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lianting Tu in Hong Kong at ltu4@bloomberg.net

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