Suntech founder Dr Zhengrong Shi has stepped down from his role as CEO of the company. Dr Shi will remain involved in the company as executive chairman and chief strategy officer, indicating a shifting focus towards operations. Chief financial officer David King will take the helm of the company in his place.
The announcement comes just 2 weeks after reports that Suntech may have been defrauded by $690 million in relation to an investment in the Global Solar Fund (GSF). It is not clear whether Dr Shi’s resignation is related to the the company’s financial predicament spawning from this, which has exacerbated the company’s already cloudy financial situation–the company has been suffering through a global glut of solar panel stock.
Dr Shi said in an open letter dated 31 July that “there is no indication” that Suntech employees were involved with the fraud, and that the investigation of the fraud will not disrupt the company’s “day-to-day operations or cash flow”. Given Suntech’s iconic status as China’s solar star, many also believe that the Chinese government will not allow the company to fail.
About his resignation as CEO, Dr Shi was quoted in an article in Forbes as saying, “The solar industry is at a critical juncture and is facing both significant challenges and exciting opportunities. At this time, I believe it’s important to devote more of my time to guiding the strategic direction of the company, building relationships with key partners, and driving the ongoing development of Suntech’s leading solar technology.”
Dr Shi is a graduate of UNSW’s school of photovoltaic engineering. In 2001 he moved back to China to start Suntech, which has since become the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels.
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