Samsonite products are displayed at a store in Hong Kong. – AP
HONG KONG (AP) – Luggage maker Samsonite said yesterday its CEO has stepped down following a report by a short-seller questioning his credentials and the company’s accounting.
Ramesh Tainwala resigned for personal reasons, which Samsonite’s board decided was in the best interests of the company and its shareholders, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
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.
Samsonite said its board took the allegations seriously but added it had accurately disclosed Tainwala’s educational background since it went public in Hong Kong in 2011. The company’s latest annual report did not refer to him as a “Dr” but Blue Orca said it found such references in US filings dating from before the company was delisted from US trading more than a decade ago, in Indian filings and during one earnings call with analysts after its Hong Kong IPO.
Tainwala, 58, became CEO in 2014. He joined the company in 1995, after working in India’s plastics industry. He will be replaced by Samsonite’s chief financial officer, Kyle Gendreau.
Blue Orca also alleged Samsonite played “accounting games” related to its 2016 purchase of luxury baggage maker Tumi.
Samsonite called the 48-page report “one-sided and misleading”, and said the conclusions about its financial results were incorrect.