SMIC Chairman Dies, CEO Voted Off Board, Shares Suspended

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China’s biggest chipmaker, said its chairman died, the chief executive officer was voted off the board and the company asked for a stock trading halt.

Shareholders rejected CEO David Wang’s reappointment as a board director and the company requested its shares be suspended from trading in Hong Kong pending the release of “price-sensitive” information, the Shanghai-based chipmaker said in statements today. Yesterday, it said Chairman Jiang Shang Zhou died June 27, without providing a cause of death.

Matthew Szymanski, a spokesman at SMIC, didn’t respond to an e-mail nor return calls made to his office and mobile phone.

Wang, appointed CEO in November 2009, helped SMIC return to profitability last year after the company posted five straight annual losses under founder Richard Chang. In April, China Investment Corp., the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, agreed to invest $250 million in the chipmaker.

“It leaves open the question of whether the CEO will remain at the company if he is not on the board,” said Steven Pelayo, who rates SMIC shares “neutral” at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “The company is improving, and was delivering much better."

Holders of 5.33 billion SMIC shares, or 58 percent of the votes cast at yesterday’s annual general meeting, opposed Wang’s reappointment, the company said. Shareholders also rejected proposals to renew the board’s authority to issue new stock or repurchase shares, it said.

SMIC shares rose 3.3 percent to 63 Hong Kong cents yesterday. They’ve gained 13 percent this year, outperforming Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

SMIC shareholders include state-owned Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Holdings Co. and Shanghai Industrial Investment (Holdings) Co.

In February, Semiconductor Manufacturing posted its first annual profit since 2004 as the global economic recovery boosted demand for chips that are used in mobile phones and computers. The company said it would increase capital spending to $1 billion this year to upgrade technology and catch up with bigger rivals including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.