Chinese PR news site issues apology and retraction over BlueFocus insider trading article

Publication PR007 releases lengthy statement "deeply" apologising for incorrectly linking BlueFocus chairman Oscar Zhao to investigation.

A Chinese PR and marketing news website has issued a grovelling apology to BlueFocus over the publication of an article which incorrectly linked the holding company’s chairman to an insider trading investigation.

PR007, which describes itself as a PR and marketing publication, has issued a statement through BlueFocus publicly apologising for the errors in a story it published late last week.

BlueFocus has confirmed to PRWeek Asia that an employee was involved in an investigation regarding insider trading late last year, and that the person was issued an "administrative penalty" by China's Securities Regulatory Commission.

According to the commission’s official release, in April 2015 the employee used their own transaction account to sell 90,000 of their own shares in BlueFocus for a total of 391,130.2 yuan (US$60,200). The administrative penalty amounted to the same as the value of the transaction.

PR007’s apology outlines that its article was "not correctly stated" in line with the commission’s announcement, which stated that the employee in question is "a close relative" of BlueFocus chairman Oscar Zhao.

Moreover, PR007 said, "the [commission] statement is indeed not related to BlueFocus and Mr [Oscar] Zhao Wenquan".

The article also made "misleading" statements regarding BlueFocus’ share price, PR007’s statement reads.

"We deeply apologise… to BlueFocus and Mr [Oscar] Zhao Wenquan," PR007’s statement reads. "Therefore we issue this special notice and have immediately deleted the article. We hope all individuals, media, organisations and platforms stop quoting any content from the article.

"Since its establishment in 1996, BlueFocus has become the leader of China’s PR industry. It is the pride of China PR. We respect and recognise BlueFocus and its staff in their way of contributing to the industry."

The incident comes after a turbulent few months financially for BlueFocus, China’s largest PR agency.

Just last week the holding company published its preliminary financial results, which the PR007 also alluded to.

BlueFocus has seen its revenue grow but its operating profits plummet by 51.7 percent, largely, it said, to due to China’s economic crisis.

In August last year, the company suspended the trading of its shares on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange "to avoid abnormal stock price volatility".

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