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Sino-Forest CEO says company may go private: report

The company logo of Sino-Forest is displayed at its office in Hong Kong
The company logo of Sino-Forest is displayed at its office in Hong Kong

By Charlie Zhu and Nishant Kumar

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Sino-Forest Corp may choose to go private as it seeks to restore its finances and reputation after its shares lost three quarters of their value amid fraud allegations, the chief executive of the Chinese forestry company was quoted as saying.

Going private was among the options under consideration, Bloomberg reported, citing Chief Executive Judson Martin.

He added that the company may also raise additional funds, bring in a strategic investor or seek a merger.

"It is going to be real tough to get back to where we were," he was quoted as saying in Hong Kong. "We are up for the challenge, but we are also up for looking for all options for our stakeholders."

A spokeswoman for Sino Forest declined a comment.

The company, until recently the largest forestry company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has shed about 75 percent of its market capitalization since June 2, when short-seller Carson Block and his firm Muddy Waters accused the company of fraudulently exaggerating the size of its assets.

Sino-Forest is the most prominent of Chinese companies listed in North America whose shares were either suspended or delisted this year amid suspicions about their business practices and Chinese regulatory safeguards.

The company said on November 15 that an independent panel had found no evidence of fraud, although had been unable to confirm fully the company's ownership of its forests from forestry sources.

A final report by the committee is expected by year-end.

(Editing by Chris Lewis)

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