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Sanctions-slapped Chinese telecoms vendor ZTE swaps execs

Preps to file delayed results after US lifts restrictions on alleged Iran trade rule shirk

Chinese telecoms vendor ZTE is overhauling its management board just one month after the biz was slapped with sanctions by the US government over accusations it had violated trade rules in Iran.

The company today confirmed it will meet this week to install a new team, following revelations in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend that there would be a major restructuring of its top brass.

ZTE is also expected to disclose its financial results for the full-year 2015, after postponing its filing in March. The delay was a direct response to allegations by the US government that it had used a complex scheme of subsidiaries to get around international sanctions on Iran.

It also suspended trading in its shares on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

However, the US commerce department has since agreed to suspend the restrictions until June, in return that ZTE disclose its sales to Iran and North Korea and to undertake internal reforms.

The move prompted the ire of the Chinese government, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei telling a news briefing it was opposed to the US citing domestic laws to place sanctions on Chinese enterprises: "We hope the US stops this erroneous action and avoids damaging Sino-US trade cooperation and bilateral relations."

Under ZTE's overhaul, executive Shi Lirong, who has been in the role since 2010, as well as executive vice presidents Tian Wenguo and Qiu Weizhao, will step down pending board approval, sources told the WSJ. Chief technology officer Zhao Xianming is expected to assume the role of CEO and chairman, they said.

The board of directors will meet to approve the new team, and a stock exchange filing is expected on Tuesday afternoon, ZTE spokesman David Dai Shu told Reuters.

Shu said ZTE reshuffles its management every three years, and the changes to be announced on Tuesday are in line with the company's regular schedule.

The company would not comment on Monday about whether the changes were related to the company’s trouble in the US. ®

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