Zoomlion's HK shares surge after newspaper apologises for article

Zoomlion's HK shares surge after newspaper apologises for article

BEIJING - Shares of Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co Ltd surged on Monday after a newspaper admitted it had not thoroughly fact-checked disparaging reports on the Chinese state-owned construction equipment maker.

The apology from Guangzhou-based New Express came after its detained reporter Chen Yongzhou confessed to accepting payment in exchange for disparaging Zoomlion.

Zoomlion has been the subject of a string of Chinese media reports this year, including those from New Express, that have accused the company of fictitious sales and helped its Hong Kong-listed shares tumble nearly 40 per cent for the year to date. It has vigorously denied the reports.

The controversy over Zoomlion also comes at a time of fierce rivalry with hometown competitor Sany Heavy Industry Co Ltd that has escalated into ugly public rows.

Zoomlion said in a July stock filing that it had been under an "all-round malicious attack by its competitor" since the fourth quarter of 2012 and has denied accusations by Sany of spying and attempting to kidnap the son of Sany's chairman.

Tensions between the country's media and its listed firms have also been increasingly troubled in recent years, with both sides seeing their integrity questioned by the other.

The New Express had earlier made a front page plea for Chen's release - an unusual public rebuke amid a wider government crackdown on freedom of expression.

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