Chinese Executives Sign Letter Denouncing Short Sellers

A group of 61 Chinese entrepreneurs and executives signed an open letter accusing Citron Research and other short-sellers of manipulating information and misleading investors in reports about Chinese companies.

Short-sellers “take advantage of the information asymmetry between China and the U.S., and boldly tell lies, knowing that their American readers have no way of verifying them,” according to the letter, which has been posted to an English-language website created for an “ongoing fight against” short sellers.

Executives who signed the letter include Lee Kai-fu, former head of Google Inc.’s operations in China, Zhang Ya-qin, chairman of Microsoft Corp.’s research and development in Asia, and Liu Qiangdong, founder and chief executive officer of 360buy Jingdong Mall.

The iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund, the biggest Chinese exchange-traded fund in the U.S., has fallen 5.2 percent this year as Citron Research, Muddy Waters LLC and other short sellers published reports on companies including New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 11.9 percent during that same period.

In response, Citron posted a statement on its website saying that the “attack” ignored its track record of “exposing wrongdoing in both Chinese and U.S. companies.” Short selling involves the sale of borrowed stock to profit from a subsequent decline.

Citron’s recent targets include Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd., which last month reported a 21 percent decline in its first-half underlying profit. In a June report, Citron said the Chinese developer “has used accounting tricks and bribes to hide the fact that it is truly insolvent.” Evergrande denied the report, said its cash flow is sufficient and filed a police report in Hong Kong over allegations.

— With assistance by Aipeng Soo

(Corrects to remove inaccurate reference to 360buy investor and corrects job title of Microsoft’s Zhang in third paragraph of story originally published Sept. 4)
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