CNPC Told About Manager Probes Two Days Before Share Suspension

China National Petroleum Corp., the state-run parent of PetroChina Co. (857), was told by the government on Aug. 25 that four top executives were being investigated, two days before the news was released to stock exchanges.

Officials from the Communist Party and the supervisor of state-owned companies informed CNPC that the party’s central disciplinary commission was probing the executives, who include three heads of PetroChina units, according to an online statement from CNPC today.

The investigations represent a widening of China’s anti-corruption campaign to one of its biggest and most sensitive industries. The government uses its big three oil companies, of which PetroChina is the largest, to control domestic fuel prices and secure energy supplies overseas.

PetroChina, the nation’s biggest company by market value, suspended its shares and then publicized the probes on Aug. 27. The company’s shares dived 4.4 percent in Hong Kong trading yesterday, the most in two years. They were up 1.9 percent at HK$8.43 at 2:20 p.m.

The three PetroChina executives under investigation and who resigned from their posts are Li Hualin, chairman of Kunlun Energy (135) Co., an oil and gas producer and distributor; PetroChina vice president and general manager of its biggest oilfield, Ran Xinquan; and Wang Daofu, chief geologist for PetroChina. A fourth - Wang Yongchun, head of the company’s second biggest oilfield - was replaced.

CNPC Chairman Zhou Jiping and General Manager Liao Yongyuan visited the two oilfields at Changqing and Daqing, the company’s research institute of petroleum exploration and development, and Kunlun Energy Co., on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 to announce the executives’ replacements, according to the newsletter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aibing Guo in Hong Kong at aguo10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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