Struggling LeEco says founder Jia to return from U.S. soon

Updated 2017-07-14 15:53:08

(ECNS) -- Chinese internet company LeEco, which is deeply mired in financial crisis, said on Thursday its founder Jia Yueting had delayed a scheduled return to the country from the U.S. but would come back soon, Beijing News reports.

Sources said Jia arrived in Los Angeles on July 5 for negotiations on the mass production of FF91 (Faraday Future). Under the original plan, Jia was to come back from the U.S. in "about 10 days", which is today.

Responding to questions about whether he would come home as scheduled, LeEco said Thursday Jia would "return to China most likely in a week or two, depending on how things progress in the U.S.".

According to Beijing Youth Daily, if Jia fails to return as promised, it could deal a further blow to market confidence in the company, and be catastrophic to its non-listed businesses.

Jia's wife Gan Wei confirmed on Twitter-like Weibo later in the day that she and all other family members are still in Beijing.

Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp, LeEco's Shenzhen-listed video-streaming unit, said in a filing last Thursday that Jia would step down from the chairman post and exit the board of directors. On the same day, LeEco's automobile unit said in an official Weibo post that Jia would take office as its chairman.

A source told Beijing News that Jia made the move in order to focus on LeEco's automobile business. "This is what he wants to do most."

LeEco's struggle with cash and unpaid debt has drawn wide attention.

With LeEco's business spanning smartphones, finance, sports and automobiles, only its video-streaming unit and movie business are making profit, with the others all in the red. Doubts about Jia's ability to reinvigorate LeEco are widespread.

On July 3, Chinese media broke the news that China Merchants Bank's Shanghai Chuanbei branch had applied to Shanghai High People's Court to freeze nearly 1.24 billion yuan of the couple's bank deposits and shares in Leshi, or seal up and seizing their other property equal to the amount.

Jia's trip to the U.S. earlier this month has further stirred up market speculation.

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