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LeEco chairman Jia Yueting defies demand to return to China

The billionaire co-founder of struggling Chinese technology giant LeEco has defied a demand from regulators to return to the country.Jia Yueting had been given until the end of 2017 to come back to China from the US and deal with mounting debts.But he has responded with a message on social media, saying he planned to stay and focus on his electric car business. Mr Jia said that his brother and wife were in China, and had authorisation to act on his behalf.Last month, the entrepreneur was put onto an official list of debt defaulters over hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unpaid loans.Cost-cuttingLeEco was for a while known as the Netflix of China, a company that streamed content and eventually started making its own original material. But it then drew comparison with the likes of Apple and Tesla when it began branching out into hardware, including a smart TV, phones and electric cars.LeEco started selling devices in the US at the tail end of 2016, but as debts mounted was forced to slash costs, including making job cuts.Last July its electric car business Faraday Futures suspended plans for a $1bn (£775m) electric car factory in Nevada. It also pulled out of a joint project with British carmaker Aston Martin to design and build an electric car.Making progressMr Jia has blamed LeEco’s debts on one bank which sued him after he was “only a mere two weeks overdue on a 30 million interest payment”.In the note posted on Weibo, Mr Jia said that his US-based electric car business needs his attention.”The fundraising for Faraday Future in the United States is making significant progress and there are many tasks I need to push forward,” he said. Mr Jia, 44, resigned as LeEco chief executive in May last year, but retains his position as chairman.Assets belonging to him, his wife and three affiliates were blocked last July by a Shanghai court.
Source: BBC News

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