Kaisa Names CEO in First Executive Change Since Kwok Returns

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Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. appointed a new chief executive officer in the first major management change since the return of the Chinese developer’s chairman.

Zheng Yi, 34, who was an executive director, takes over immediately, the company said Thursday in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The developer has been without a CEO since Feb. 1 when Jin Zhigang stepped down, the third top manager to leave the company in two months.

Kaisa, the first Chinese developer to default on U.S.- dollar bonds, has been reshuffling management as it tries to negotiate a restructuring of $10.5 billion of debt. That was thrown into doubt when rival Sunac China Holdings Ltd. abandoned a proposed acquisition in May after failing to make progress with Kaisa bondholders over terms of a rescue after months of negotiations.

The developer’s woes started late last year when the Chinese government blocked approvals of its property sales and new projects in Shenzhen, said to be linked to an investigation of the city’s former security chief Jiang Zunyu.

Kaisa’s founder Kwok Ying Shing, who resigned in December amid the probe, returned as chairman in April, days after authorities lifted the restrictions, which had drained the company’s cash flows.

Zheng’s promotion to executive director was announced in the same statement on April 13. His terms of service and his salary as CEO will stay the same at HK$1.73 million ($223,000) a year, Kaisa said.

Previous Positions

Zheng, who joined Kaisa in 2007, was president of unit Kaisa Zhiye Development (Shenzhen) Co. since January 2014. He was also secretary to Kwok for a period of time.

Kaisa’s 8.875 percent bonds due 2018 have increased 1.8 cents since May 28, when Sunac said it was dropping the proposed acquisition, to 64.9 cents on the dollar as of 1:17 p.m. in Hong Kong. Its 10.25 percent notes due 2020 have advanced 2.1 cents to 65.1 cents.

Kaisa has yet to release its annual report, which has been delayed because auditors needed more time to verify its accounts. The shares have been suspended since March 31.

Ye Lieli resigned as vice chairman to spend more time on his other businesses, Kaisa also said in Thursday’s statement. Ye was appointed in December as a representative of Sino Life Insurance Co., Kaisa’s second-largest shareholder.

Kaisa investor relations official Frank Chen declined to comment beyond the statement when reached by phone on Thursday.