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Suntech Replaces CEO Zhengrong Shi With Finance Chief King

Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world’s largest maker of solar modules, is replacing founder and Chief Executive Officer Zhengrong Shi with Chief Financial Officer David King.

Shi, 49, will remain executive chairman and in charge of the company’s strategy, Suntech said in a statement today. Anlin Ting-Mason, finance chief of Suntech America, will assume King’s role on an interim basis.

“The solar industry is at a critical juncture, and is facing both significant challenges and exciting opportunities,” Shi said in the statement. “It’s important to devote more of my time to guiding the strategic direction of the company.”

Suntech, based in Jiangsu, China, last month said it may have been the victim of fraud involving loan guarantees to an affiliate worth 554.2 million euros ($680 million). Its shares have dropped 99 percent from its high of $88.35 in December 2007. The American depositary receipts, each representing an ordinary share, sold for $15 in December 2005 in New York.

The company’s American depositary receipts fell 4.7 percent to $1.01 at the close in New York.

“Suntech is done as a U.S. investment,” said Mark Bachman, an analyst at Boston-based Avian Securities who has a sell rating on the shares. “Shi is stepping down in the midst of all these fraud allegations and as the company struggles under a mound of debt. I wouldn’t be surprised if Suntech is the first to delist their shares in the U.S.”

King, 55, joined Suntech as finance chief in 2011 after about serving in similar roles for 11 years at Tetra Tech Inc., an environmental services and construction company based in Pasadena, California.

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