China Aircraft Ex-CEO Said Probed With Airline Officials

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The former chief executive officer of China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Ltd. is being probed as part of a corruption investigation involving officials at China Southern Airlines Co., people familiar with the matter said.

The probe doesn’t necessarily mean Poon Ho Man will be charged, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information is private. Poon sent a resignation letter to the company June 17 while he was on a more than monthlong vacation, China Aircraft said June 19.

Poon’s resignation comes amid an anti-corruption crusade by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Communist Party warned in December that it wouldn’t tolerate political cliques and corrupt business ties.

China Aircraft “does not have any official notice on any such information from any competent authority,” the company said in an e-mailed response to a Bloomberg News query about the Poon probe. “Neither the company nor any directors of the company have been contacted or enquired by any official or competent authority to this effect.”

Shares of China Aircraft rose 6.9 percent to close at HK$10.52 in Hong Kong trading today. The stock has fallen 8.5 percent this year, compared with a 16 percent climb in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

No Irregularities

China Aircraft does business with China Southern Air Holdings and its listed unit, China Southern Airlines Co. The airline said in January that two China Southern Air executives had been removed from their positions after being put under investigation on suspicion of “job-related crimes.” Since Dec. 30, the airline has announced the removal of four officials who are being investigated.

Last year, China Aircraft, based in Hong Kong, became the first Asian aircraft lessor to list, selling HK$728.9 million ($94 million) of shares in an initial public offering. The company also pledged to buy 100 Airbus Group SE airliners valued at $10.2 billion.

China Aircraft has reviewed its documents and records with China Southern and found no irregularities, it said last week.

Following Poon’s resignation, the company said last week that Chairman Chen Shuang would also become CEO, effective Thursday. China Aircraft also said Chief Financial Officer Yu Tai Tei had resigned and been replaced by Mok Chung Tat.

— With assistance by Steven Yang

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