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International Corporate Governance

A Case Study Approach

Edited by Christine A. Mallin

Corporate governance has become a global phenomenon. This book highlights, through various case studies, how corporate governance has evolved in a number of countries around the world. The international cast of contributors, from varying professional backgrounds including academics, lawyers and company directors, focus on different regions around the globe, reflecting various ownership structures, legal systems, and political and cultural aspirations. Some of the case studies used include: Standard Life; Telecom Italia; and Eskom.
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Chapter 9: The Rise and Fall of China’s Corporate Dragon: Kelon and its Old and New Owners

Guy S. Liu and Pei Sun


Guy S. Liu and Pei Sun INTRODUCTION The collapse of corporate empires in contemporary capitalist economies tends to be no less dramatic than the vicissitudes of political empires in history. While the political ones often slipped into a less than envious position through a gradual process, in which the decline could be discerned widely by both outside political observers and ordinary people, the sudden collapse of corporate dinosaurs nowadays can take even the closest, longterm corporate analysts by surprise. Unfortunately, this was the case in the example of Kelon, a domestic household appliance manufacturer that once enjoyed the honour of being cited as a typically successful case study on Chinese firms in international business schools. Entitled Kelon: China’s Corporate Dragon,1 the study regarded it as an exemplar of dynamic Chinese firms rising from China’s embracing of the market economy during the 1980s and 1990s.2 The timing of the publication, namely the year 2001, could not have been more embarrassing for both the authors and business school students. Guangdong Kelon Electrical Holdings Co. Ltd shocked investors and equity analysts alike by reporting an unprecedented net loss of RMB 1.5 billion (HK$17 million) in the same year, with appalling scandals of the controlling shareholder’s expropriation of company assets. The rise and fall of Kelon is deeply rooted in its corporate governance system, which was developed when China’s economy was under a complex transition that induced block shareholders to play a dual role – of helping on one hand and appropriating on...

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