Embattled LeEco founder placed on debt blacklist

The blacklisting of Mr Jia Yueting underscores the abrupt fall from grace of one of China's most prominent entrepreneurs, who created a tech empire with assets ranging from a Netflix-like online content platform to a smart-car unit looking to rival T
The blacklisting of Mr Jia Yueting underscores the abrupt fall from grace of one of China's most prominent entrepreneurs, who created a tech empire with assets ranging from a Netflix-like online content platform to a smart-car unit looking to rival Tesla.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SHANGHAI • The high-profile founder of struggling Chinese tech conglomerate LeEco has been placed on an official blacklist of debt defaulters, a further blow to a firm that had spent heavily to compete in areas from smart cars to online entertainment.

Mr Jia Yueting had his name and ID number splashed on China's defaulter website after failing to satisfy a court order to pay Ping An Securities Group (Holdings) more than 470 million yuan (S$96 million), according to a notice dated Dec 11.

The move underscores the abrupt fall from grace of one of China's most prominent entrepreneurs, who created a tech empire with assets ranging from a Netflix-like online content platform to a smart-car unit looking to rival electric car giant Tesla.

The latest twist - which follows court cases and Mr Jia being ousted as chief executive of the main-listed unit of the group he founded - is symbolic more than anything else of the firm's wider demise.

Being named on the list means a person can be restricted from frequenting luxury hotels, purchasing airline and high-speed train tickets, going to golf courses, sending his children to expensive schools and even shopping online for luxury goods.

The entertainment, electronics and electric vehicles group has struggled to pay its debts after rapid expansion led to a cash crunch, share price plunge and multiple defaults. Mr Jia had expanded his business from its video-streaming roots 13 years ago to include telephones, TV sets and cars, and had even looked to push into the United States. At its peak, LeEco owed creditors 10 billion yuan.

Mr Jia was still talking about his dream to "revolutionise the auto industry" via his start-up Faraday Future after he stepped down as CEO from listed Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp Beijing in July.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'Embattled LeEco founder placed on debt blacklist'. Print Edition | Subscribe