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China Daily Website

Founders, investors urged to agree to targets from start

Updated: 2012-08-07 12:37
By Cai Xiao ( China Daily)

As a struggle rages over the management of the Chongqing-based NVC Lighting Technology Corp, experts are saying that entrepreneurs and equity investment firms should come to mutual understandings before trying to work together.

They also say it is important that private equity and venture capital firms seek returns in the short run from the companies they invest in, and that they offer needed services without interfering greatly in how businesses are run.

Their comments come about a month after employees and distributors with NVC Lighting organized strikes in the company's headquarters in Chongqing and manufacturing bases in Chongqing and Guangdong province.

The unrest was in part an attempt to secure the return to the company of Wu Changjiang, the founder and former chairman of NVC Lighting, who some believe was forced out by NVC's board.

"The conflict at NVC Lighting Technology Corp has greatly damaged the company's business and is not good for the interests of entrepreneurs and investors," said Yi Jigang, president of Orient Jiyi Investment, a Beijing-based private equity firm, and the former chairman of the liquor maker Guizhou Dongjiu Co Ltd.

"Investors, before making investments, should have the same views as entrepreneurs about operations and development goals."

Yan Yan, a managing director at the Asian private equity firm SAIF Partners and current chairman of NVC Lighting Technology's board, has been questioned about whether Wu was removed from the company.

Wu, for his part, has been quoted by China Business News as saying that he wants to return to the board and is concerned that the company's business performance has deteriorated sharply during his absence.

Yi said Chinese entrepreneurs have developed their way of doing business amid strong competition in the domestic market. Yi also said investors and venture capital and private equity firms should have respect for the experiences of businesspeople and avoid disregarding entrepreneurs' opinions when they adopt reforms.

"In my 20 years of managing companies, I have rarely seen companies that continue to be operated well once their senior management teams have been replaced by new ones," said Yi.

Wu is still the largest stakeholder in the company, having a 19.53 percent share.

SAIF Partners, for its part, invested $22 million in NVC Lighting in 2006 and another $10 million in 2008, giving it a 18.48 percent share. And Schneider Electric holds a 9.21 percent share, according to information from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange's website.

If Wu does return to the company's board of directors, Yi said, he will have to find a way to work with SAIF Partners and reward his supporters in the company while he struggles to maintain his controlling position on NVC's board.

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