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Who’s in Charge at Hong Kong Airlines?

Who’s in Charge at Hong Kong Airlines?
Jeff Edwards

A boardroom revolt has left even senior staff at HNA Group unsure who is at the helm of Hong Kong Airlines. Dueling press releases this week from two separate camps within the company offered opposing views of the current management structure. Murky accusations of fraud and financial irregularities soon followed the supposed shakeup.

On Tuesday, former director Zhong Guosong declared himself to be the new chairman of struggling Hong Kong Airlines. Less than 24 hours later, the airline’s CEO of record Hou Wei assured investors that he was still at the helm. With even the company’s public relations staff uncertain of the airline’s current management structure, the leadership dispute remains unresolved. Now, it appears the fight may be decided by Hong Kong’s highest court.

“I will continue to work hand in hand with our leadership team to take concrete action to secure Hong Kong Airlines’ future,” Hou Wei wrote in a company memo declaring that he was still in charge. “We will also keep you updated on the company’s current situation accordingly.”

Hou Wei described the confusion over the airline’s leadership as being the result of a “shareholder dispute.” He insisted, however, that the status quo would continue and operations at the carrier remained “business as usual.”

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reports that the airline’s former head Zhong Guosong cited financial irregularities as his reason behind purportedly seizing control of the company. In a statement announcing himself as the new leader of the airline, he claimed to have organized the boardroom coup d’état with the help of two investment groups.

In releases backing Zhong Guosong’s position, investor groups known as Hong Kong Airlines Consultation Service (HKACS) and Frontier Investment Partners (FIP) announced they are now the new majority shareholders at the company. The groups said it was with their blessing that Zhong Guosong “immediately assumed legal control” of the airline.

Now, it appears that with neither side willing to back down, the dispute for control of the airline will be headed to the High Court. The Morning Post reports that Deputy High Court Judge William Blair has already granted a series of injunctions prohibiting either side from taking “any steps that may interfere or disrupt, or adversely affect the day-to-day business of Hong Kong Airlines and in particular its provision of service to members of the public.”

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

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