No hidden deals with celebrities, dairy firm says

Updated 2018-05-07 15:15:00

Leading dairy firm Yili Group said on Sunday that information circulated online recently is untrue and is part of a "malicious attack" on the company. The comment came in response to allegations about the firm's behind-the scenes trading with some online celebrities.

A post by Wuyuesanren, who has over 2.36 million followers on his Weibo account, showed a screenshot of him being contacted by a person who claimed to work in PR for Yili on Thursday, asking to conduct business cooperation.

Wuyuesanren rejected the suggestion immediately, saying in his post that he "would never advertise for a company like Yili."

Wuyuesanren's post, which has been liked more than 2,500 times as of Sunday, put Yili back in the spotlight again.

On Wednesday last week, some influential celebrities on Weibo, including those verified as well-known professors and scholars such as Kong Qingdong, a professor at Peking University, had simultaneously touted Yili's outstanding sales performance under the leadership of its chairman, Pan Gang.

Yili released its 2017 annual report and 2018 first-quarter report on April 26.

The reports showed that Yili's sales revenue in 2017 reached 68.06 billion yuan (.7 billion), up 12.29 percent year-on-year, and the company expects to achieve total sales revenue of 77 billion yuan in 2018.

The Global Times contacted Wuyuesanren and other Weibo celebrities involved in the case, but did not receive any replies as of press time on Sunday.

Several of them apologized and deleted their previous posts praising Yili over the weekend, with some claiming that they had "returned the money they were paid."

"This is quite a normal business model. Enterprises pay you the money, and you say something good for them. Wuyuesanren just told outsiders the rules of the industry," Liu Dingding, an independent technology analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday.

He added that recent rumors in the markets that Pan Gang is under police investigation might be another reason why this case has come to public attention. However, Yili denied the rumors in a statement released on April 7, claiming that Pan was undergoing therapy.

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