Sunac chairman Sun Hongbin has stepped down as the chairman of Leshi Internet Information & Technology, a video streaming subsidiary of mainland new media trainwreck LeEco.
Sun resigned before his term’s expiration date of October 13 due to “job adjustments,” according to a filing to Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Liu Shuqing, currently general manager of the firm once commonly called the Netflix of China, will be taking over as interim chairman of Leshi, the filing said.
Sun took the leading role in Leshi in July 2017 after the developer agreed to inject RMB 15 billion ($2.36 billion) into Jia Yueting’s embattled media conglomerate in January. Sun Hongbin and LeEco’s founder Jia Yueting are both from the northern province of Shanxi.
Speaking of bailing out his fellow Shanxi entrepreneur, “I’ve never had any regrets my entire life, until I invested in LeEco,” Sun said during a Hong Kong press conference last September with tears in his eyes, as cited by South China Morning Post. “If I can’t turn LeEco back to normal, that would be a regret.”
Sun Hongbin proved his commitment to bringing LeEco back to life in November by providing another $270 million in loans to Leshi Internet and Leshi Zhixin, LeEco’s television units.
Sun Backs Away From White Knight Role
However, the property magnate’s optimism did not last long. In January Sun indicated he would not extend his investment in Leshi, saying that “people should admit defeat because sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” in an online conference with investors.
Sun’s move to distance himself from LeEco’s troubles comes amid a string of bad news for the streaming video provider. Its Hong Kong online streaming unit LeSports is reported to have shut down operations last night, after the company and its stablemates ran up an unpaid rent bill of HK$10.4 million on their local offices.
Last July, China Construction Bank successfully sued to freeze $37.2 million in assets belonging to Jia Yueting and LeEco in Beijing’s courts, and during the same month, China Merchants Bank had $182 million in assets held by Jia’s family and LeEco frozen by Shanghai courts.
Jia Yueting remains in the US despite demands from Chinese regulators for him to return to the country. In late December, Beijing Securities Regulatory Bureau, ordered the embattled entrepreneur to return to China before year-end. In response, Jia said on his Wechat account in early January that his wife and younger brother would represent him handling regulatory questions on the billions of debt, according to a South China Morning Post account.
In order to climb out of a RMB 16.8 billion ($2.7 billion) debt hole, LeEco has been selling off real estate and other assets in the last two years to free up cash. After announcing plans for a California dream campus, LeEco last March sold off a 49 acre Silicon Valley site it had purchased for $250 million in 2016 to Chinese real estate developer Genzon Group for $260 million.