(Yicai Global) Aug. 2 -- Han's Laser Technology Industry Group has apologized for its Chairman Gao Yunfeng after he made inappropriate comments to a journalist during a CCTV interview.
Gao questioned the qualifications of the reporter during a telephone interview yesterday about the mysterious Swiss research center the company is supposed to be building, the Guangdong-based firm said in a statement the same day. China's leading laser equipment maker has the right to use its funds to make business decisions at will, he told the journalist.
The Shenzhen Stock Exchange had criticized Gao's remarks and his attitude toward the media before the apology was issued, triggering the firm's stock to slump this morning. Its share price [SHE:002008] slid more than 9 percent early doors to a more than two-year low and has struggled to bounce back, closing 8.8 percent down at CNY26.08 (USD3.76).
Yicai Global visited the address of Han's Laser's research and development center in Engelberg, Switzerland on July 31, only to find that the hub -- which has been in the pipeline for nine years -- was merely a room of about 10 square meters. However, the firm's nearby hotel renovation project, part of the center's construction plans, was well underway.
Following a report on the discovery, Han's Laser said that the reason it prioritized the hotel is that the building is a hundred years old and the local government has requested it retain its original function. There is also a complex application process for new buildings and locals have complained about the construction, it added, saying the R&D center is behind schedule but the core of the building should be complete by the end of 2020.
Han's has been building the center, located at the base of the Alps, since 2010. It originally disclosed a CNY50 million (USD7.2 million) budget but has since increased that to CNY1 billion due to the delays.
Editor: James Boynton