Bag maker Samsonite’s CEO resigns after short-seller report

HONG KONG, June 1: Luggage maker Samsonite said today its CEO has stepped down following a report by a short-seller that questioned his credentials and the company’s accounting.
The company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that Ramesh Tainwala resigned for personal reasons.
A research report issued by US-based short-seller Blue Orca a week earlier said Tainwala had falsely claimed on his resume that he earned a doctorate degree in business administration from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati.
The company said its board took the allegations seriously and decided that his departure was in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. Blue Orca also alleged Samsonite played “accounting games” related to its 2016 purchase of luxury baggage maker Tumi.
Samsonite called the report “one-sided and misleading,” and said the conclusions about its financial results were incorrect. The company added it had accurately disclosed Tainwala’s educational background since it went public in Hong Kong in 2011.
Blue Orca’s report was its first after it was founded earlier in May by Soren Aandahl, formerly the chief investment officer at another short-seller, Glaucus Research. Investors who “short” stocks profit by betting that their prices will fall.
Luxembourg-based Samsonite’s Hong Kong-listed shares jumped more than 7 percent after the announcement.
The company was founded in Denver more than a century ago and family owned until the 1970s, when various investors and private equity groups took over. It listed its shares in Hong Kong to better capture growth in the Chinese consumer market.