Autohome appoints new CEO, directors

29 Jun 2016

Ping An Insurance (Group) of China, the new controlling shareholder of leading Chinese auto classified site Autohome, lost no time in installing its own management – even though its acquisition of 47 percent of shares in Autohome from the previous controlling shareholder, Australia’s Telstra Ltd. on June 24, is likely to be contested in court.

Autohome announced on June 27 that Lu Min, a standing member of the executive committee of Ping An Group, had been appointed chairman of its board of directors on June 25, replacing Cynthia Whelan, who had only recently been appointed to the post by Telstra.

Simultaneously, Lu replaced James Qin Zhi as Autohome’s chief executive officer.

Lu Min is a 20-year veteran of Ping An and chief of its strategy center. His background includes stints in health and life insurance. Between 2010 and 2012 he was chairman of Yihaodian, an online retailer at one point owned by Ping An.

Both Whelan and Qin remain as directors of the company. But, Tim Chen, Andrew Penn, Han Willem Kotterman, Kao Ruey-Bin and Ajinkya Mukhopadhyay – all Telstra appointees – resigned.

Mukhopadhyay had only been appointed to the board the previous month, to enable Telstra to get a majority for its deal with Ping An Group, which the company’s local Chinese management had opposed.

Wang Jun Lang has been appointed to replace Nicholas Chong Yik Kay as chief financial officer of the company, and Kang Yan has been appointed as president of the company, with each appointment effective on June 25, 2016.

“We would like to welcome the new incoming directors to our board and the new executive officers to our management team,” said Whelan. “We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to our outgoing executives, Mr. Qin and Mr. Chong, for their service to the company. We are confident that Ping An will help provide opportunities for Autohome to diversify outside of its traditional core online advertisement business.”

Lu said: “I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as chairman and CEO of Autohome. I will make every effort to accelerate the growth of Autohome, and maximize value for all shareholders, employees, users and customers.

“In particular, I will help Autohome by leveraging Ping An’s 300 million online customers, 150 million financial services customers, 50 million online car insurance customers, extensive auto manufacturer and retailer partnership networks, and off-line auto services networks throughout the country.

“I am committed to strengthening Autohome’s market position, and leading Autohome to a strategic transition from an auto information provider to a provider of all auto-related services,” said Lu.

For full details, see here.

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Don Gasper