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Canadian Solar CEO on Leave After Unspecified China Accident

Will Wade

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Solar Inc. Chief Executive Officer Shawn Qu has taken leave from the company as he recovers at a Beijing hospital from an accident this month.

Company executives declined to answer questions about the accident or the extent of Qu’s injuries during a call with analysts Thursday, saying they were respecting his privacy. They said Qu never lost consciousness and is in frequent contact with the management team, which is largely based in China.

Qu, 55, is a key player in solar. He founded Canadian Solar in 2001 and built it into North America’s largest panel supplier. He’s the largest shareholder, with a 23% stake. Last year, Qu’s push to take the company private with backing from Lion Point Capital LP, a New York hedge fund formed by a former Elliott Management Corp. executive, was rejected by Canadian Solar’s board.

Guelph, Ontario-based Canadian Solar’s Chief Commercial Officer Yan Zhuang has been named interim CEO, the company said in a statement Thursday. It’s unclear how long Qu will be hospitalized, officials said.

Qu can read and respond to “simple email,” and he hopes to address the Solar Future Forum event in New York in June by phone, an executive said on the call. “During my absence, I will continue to be involved in all major decisions affecting the company,” Qu said in the statement.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Evans said there’s apt to be “relatively little disruption” in the near term for the company since its management team has been in place for a while.

Representatives for Canadian Solar didn’t respond to phone and email inquiries.

Shares of Canadian Solar, which reported better-than-expected first-quarter revenue on Thursday, were up 8.4% at 11:08 a.m. in New York. The company, which manufactures most of its products in China, has a market value of about $1.1 billion.

(Updates with buyout offer detail in third paragraph.)

--With assistance from Brian Eckhouse.

To contact the reporter on this story: Will Wade in New York at wwade4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net, Joe Ryan, Christopher Martin

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