Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holdings Corp, the leading Chinese instant noodle producer, faces a long road to winning back Chinese consumers who have been roused by the Diaoyu Islands dispute, analysts said, after the company told the Global Times Sunday that it has sought legal recourse to refute rumors it is Japanese-controlled.
Chinese Ting Hsin International Group holds the controlling stake of 33.27 percent in this producer of "Master Kang" instant noodles, while Japanese Sanyo Foods Co owns 33.18 percent. Wei Yingzhou, the Chinese founder of "Master Kang," is the biggest individual shareholder, according to Ting Hsin.
The public labeled Tingyi a Japanese-controlled enterprise after protesters held up a flag saying "boycott Master Kang" during the anti-Japanese protest on September 18 in Beijing, Chen Gongru, a spokesperson of Ting Hsin, told the Global Times Sunday.
Sales of "Master Kang" instant noodles have been affected during the Diaoyu Islands dispute, as Master Kang products in stores have been anonymously labeled with remarks like "boycott Japanese products, boycott Master Kang," said a Tingyi announcement.
Some suspect that those responsible for the labels and the anti-Master Kang sentiment are staff from Tingyi competitor Uni-president Co, ce.cn, the Web portal of newspaper Economic Daily, reported Saturday, citing an unnamed source who provided electronic evidence such as an anti-Master Kang order allegedly issued by Uni-president's business unit.
When asked by Tingyi, Uni-president said they were unaware of this, according to an anonymous Tingyi insider.
Uni-president refused to comment when contacted by the Global Times.
The rumors are not one-sided. Tingyi was also accused of distributing leaflets in the street which claimed that Uni-president was a Japanese-invested firm deserving boycott, reported International Finance News on Friday, citing an unnamed source from Uni-president.
The unnamed source said they caught one Tingyi employee distributing these leaflets in Changsha and sent him to the local police station.
"I did not know about this," a police officer from the station told the Global Times Sunday on condition of anonymity.
"It will be hard for Tingyi to win this game through legal recourse," said Fan Jie, a fast food analyst from Adfaith Management Consulting. "Tingyi must provide grounded evidence that this move was originated by Uni-president and then stop the spread of rumors at the roots, which is very difficult."