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Walmart China's CEO steps down
Global Times | October 18, 2011 00:41
By Liang Fei
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The CEO of Walmart's China business has resigned, the company announced Monday, 10 days after the retail giant's outlets in Chongqing were shut down after they were found to have cheated customers.

Ed Chan, president and CEO of Walmart China, and Clara Wong, senior vice-president for human resources, had resigned "for personal reasons."

Scott Price, president and CEO of Walmart Asia, will replace Chan as the interim leader for Walmart China.

The resignations came after the company's 13 outlets in Chongqing were penalized by local authorities on October 9 for passing off regular pork as higher-priced organic meat.

A total of 37 local employees have been detained and the company was fined 2.69 million yuan ($421,499) for its actions while the 13 stores were ordered to shut down.

An official surnamed Zhao with the Chongqing Administration for Industry and Commerce told the Global Times that the investigation is near completion.

"Walmart China has submitted a plan on improving future operations. If no further problems are found, the 13 outlets are expected to resume operation on October 24," Zhao said.

Analysts predicted that the closure of stores would eventually bring the supermarket giant as much as 45 million yuan of losses in sales, the China Business News reported.

Li Ling, a spokeswoman for Walmart China, rejected any connection between the resignations and the scandal Monday by insisting that Chan's resignation had nothing to do with the investigation in Chongqing.

Li told the Global Times that internal investigations into the pork incident are also being conducted in other Walmart outlets in China.

According to the Financial Times, Walmart's Chongqing operations have run into trouble with local authorities nine times this year, and the company has been punished 21 times since it was established in the city in 2006.

Paul French, the founder of Shanghai-based research company Access Asia, told the paper that Walmart might be a victim of Beijing's retaliation against the US Senate's passage of a currency bill targeting China's currency policy.

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