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PetroChina to ‘Vigorously’ Contest U.S. Investor Lawsuit

PetroChina Co., the nation’s biggest energy company, will “vigorously” contest a lawsuit filed by an investor in the U.S. that claims it failed to disclose corruption, exposing it to government investigations.

PetroChina and individual defendants named in the suit haven’t received any formal documentation of the complaint, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday. It will “closely follow the progress of the complaint and disclose the relevant information in a timely manner in accordance with regulatory requirements,” according to the statement.

The former chairman of the state-owned company, Jiang Jiemin, who left PetroChina in March, was removed from his post as head of the state assets regulator and is under investigation, the official Xinhua News Agency said Sept. 2. Five days earlier, PetroChina said it removed four senior managers after authorities started a probe.

PetroChina’s stock fell the most in two years on Aug. 28 in Hong Kong after China signaled it had widening its anti-corruption campaign to include executives at the company.

Johan Broux, an investor in Belgium, filed the complaint in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 4, seeking to represent all buyers of PetroChina securities from April 26, 2012, to Aug. 27 of this year.

In addition to PetroChina, the complaint identifies as defendants Chairman and President Zhou Jiping, Chief Financial Officer Yu Yibo, and two former company executives -- ex-CFO Zhou Mingchun and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jiang Jiemin. Broux seeks unspecified damages.

The company’s operations “are not affected” by the legal action, according to the statement.

Shares closed unchanged at HK$8.70 in Hong Kong yesterday, compared with a 0.1 percent gain in the city’s Hang Seng Index. The stock has dropped 21 percent this year, compared with a 0.2 percent decline in the benchmark.

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