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关于总经理、副总经理的法律问题 Legal Issues regarding GM and Deputy GM

(2011-07-04 14:09:22)
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杂谈

 

I act as a legal counsel for a foreign invested company and I experienced the serials of disputes between the Chinese investor and the foreign investor. I would like to discuss one of the disputes regarding the power to appoint respectively the general manager and deputy general manager (“GM” and deputy “GM”) which impress me deeply.

During the stage of setting up the JV, the GM role was played by the one dispatched by the foreign investor. After the establishment of the JV, both parties found it was necessary to recruit a deputy GM who could easily communicate with each party and possesses the professional knowledge to support the management by the GM. The foreign party recommended one and the Chinese party agreed and then the Board of the JV appointed such person as the deputy GM. Every thing ran smoothly in the early stage of cooperation.

But disputes arose from the cooperation due to different operation views. The Chinese party blamed the foreign party for having the JV operated without in compliance with China’s laws and regulations, including the appointment of the deputy GM recommended by the foreign party which then seemed acceptable to both sides. The Chinese party believed that, according to the Law of PRC of Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures (“JV Law”), the GM and deputy GM shall be assumed respectively by the investors. Since the GM was a person from the foreign investor, the deputy GM shall be dispatched by Chinese investor and apparently, as the deputy GM was also recommended by the foreign party, the foreign party committed wrongly.

The foreign party had to accept the opinion by the Chinese party. Through negotiation, they finally got consensus.

Though this dispute was settled down, it aroused my interesting about the provision in the JV Law. After preliminary study, I would like to present my view over this provision regarding the GM and deputy GM.

 

1.        Legislation purpose of this provision

I think the purpose is very clear and simple: pursuing power and right balance between the foreign party and Chinese party. In terms of chairman of the Board of a JV, the JV Law provides that where one party holds the post of chairman of the Board, the other party is entitled to hold the post of deputy chairman of the Board. Then it comes to GM and deputy GM and we have such a provision.

I understand the legislation purpose since one principle of the JV Law is equity and mutual benefit. But I do not consider it appropriate to seek power and right balance both in the power institute of a JV, the Board and in the executive institute, the management department. The management department of a JV is not a power organ; instead, it is just department in charge of implementing the Board resolution and the daily operation and management of JV. If there is no power of the shareholders, I don’t think it is necessary to share the “power” of GM and deputy GM by setting up such provision.

2.        Other opinions on this provision

I find other issues needed to be discussed in this provision.

2.1.       According to the Regulations on the Law of PRC of Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures (“JV Regulations”), it can be set up several posts for the deputy GM in the management department. A question arises: if one party holds the GM post, will the other party assume all the deputy GM posts if they are so set up or be entitled to hold only one deputy GM post? Which approach represents the equity?

2.2.       Foreign investment related laws do not preclude the “professional manager”, which means that the GM can be recruited from the “professional mangers market”, not only from either party of the JV.

In China, the professional managers are defined as management experts of business who, in such enterprises as the ownership, the legal person’s assets right and operation rights separate each other, assume the responsibility to have the value of the legal person’s assets right maintained and increased, to manage the enterprises comprehensively, possess the exclusive right for operation and management, and who are appointed from the professional managers market and obtain the salary mainly through getting paid or holding the stock futures.

Simply, the professional managers live on his or her competency and performance in stead of capital, or they live on labor capital, not cash capital.

Though the foreign investment laws do not provide the concept of professional managers, it doesn’t mean the JV is not entitled to recruit them in the professional managers market. If such, how to identify whether a GM is from the foreign party or Chinese party? Can each party of the JV recommend deputy GM if the GM is appointed from the market instead of by any party?

2.3.       Even we concede a bit by accepting the situation that a GM is recommended by one party, however, according to the JV Regulations, either GM or deputy GM is appointed by the Board which is the highest power institute of a JV not an institute representing any party, how can we say the GM is assumed by such party so recommends? For this point, we have to say the JV regulations are in contradiction with the JV Law.

Thus, based on the fact that the JV Law fails to catch up the market development trend in terms of professional managers and the contradiction between the JV Law and JV Regulations, it is suggested to cancel the term regarding which party assumes GM which party holds deputy GM in JV Law and give such recruitment power back to market, to either party of a JV in order to reduce the risks of disputes.

 

 

关于《中外合资经营企业法》中关于总经理、副总经理的规定的法律问题

 

本人担任一家外商投资企业的法律顾问,经历了该企业中方股东与外方股东之间一连串的纠纷。在这些纠纷中,关于谁有权任命总经理、副总经理的纠纷给本人印象深刻,其中的法律问题愿和大家探讨。

在合资公司设立阶段,总经理的职位由外方指派的人担任。在合资公司设立后,中外双方均认为有必要聘用一个既能方便地与中外双方进行沟通又懂专业知识的人来协助总经理的工作。于是外方推荐了一个符合条件的人选,中方也表示同意,公司董事会聘用了该副总经理。在合作的初期阶段一切进展得很顺利。

但在合作过程中由于经营理念的差异,双方逐渐产生纠纷,中方指责外方违反中外合资方面的法律,包括聘用由外方推荐的副总经理(此事在聘用时并未引起争议)。中方认为根据《中外合资经营企业法》(“中外合资法”),正副总经理由合营各方分别担任。既然总经理是由来自外方投资者的人担任,则副总经理应由中方投资者委派。由于副总经理也是由外方推荐的,外方明显违反了法律规定。

外方不得不接受了中方的意见。经过协商双方最终达成一致。

    虽然争议得以解决,但合资企业法的相关规定却引起本人兴趣。经过初步研究,本人就中外合资法中总经理、副总经理有关的规定提出自己的看法。

1.      立法原意

本人认为关于总经理、副总经理条款的立法意图是十分清楚和简单的,寻求中外双方权力与权利的平衡。关于中外合资企业的董事长,中外合资法规定,中外合营者的一方担任董事长的,由他方担任副董事长。之后,中外合资法又对总经理、副总经理的任职作了规定,详见前述。

其立法原意是可以理解的,因为中外合资法的一个主要原则是平等互利。但本人认为同时在合资企业的权力机构---董事会与经营管理机构-----经理层寻找权力与权利的平衡却并不适宜。企业的经营管理部门并非权力部门,相反该机构的职责是执行董事会决议和负责合资企业的日常经营管理。既然其不具备股东的权力,本人认为没有必要在中外合资法作出那样的规定,而令总经理、副总经理分享经营管理方面的权力。

2.      对该条款的其他看法

该条款的其他问题也值得讨论

2.1.   根据《中外合资经营企业法实施条例》(“合资条例”),在管理层可设置若干人副总经理。现在的问题是,如果一方担任了总经理,另一方是否可委派其他人占据其他所有副总的职位,亦或只能担任一个副总经理。哪一种情况代表了公平呢?

2.2.   外商投资企业的相关法律并未排斥“职业经理人”,这意味着总经理可以从职业经理人市场中聘任,而不是仅拘泥于各方股东委派。

在中国,职业经理人是这样定义的:职业经理人是指在一个所有权、法人财产权和经营权分离的企业中承担法人财产的保值增值责任,全面负责企业经营管理,对法人财产拥有绝对经营权和管理权,由企业在职业经理人市场(包括社会职业经理人市场和企业内部职业经理人市场)中聘任,而其自身以受薪、股票期权等为获得报酬主要方式的职业化企业经营管理专家。通俗来讲,职业经理人就是凭能力凭业绩吃饭的人,但不是凭资本吃饭的人,换言之他们是凭人力资本吃饭的人,而不是凭货币资本吃饭的人。

虽然外商投资法律并未对职业经理人做定义,但这不意味着合资企业不能在职业经理人市场招聘总经理、副总经理。如此,如何判断总经理是来自外方还是中方呢?如果总经理是从职业经理人市场中招聘的而非哪一方委派的,合资企业任何一方都可以任命副总经理吗?

2.3.   即使退一步讲,认可一方推荐总经理的说法,但根据合资条例,不管是总经理还是副总经理都是由董事会聘任的,而董事会是合资公司的最高权力机构而非中方或外方的代表机构,我们怎么能说总经理是由推荐他的那一方来担任呢?就此点而言,中外合资法与合资条例是相互冲突的。

综上所述,鉴于中外合资法未能跟上职业经理人市场的发展趋势及与合资条例相互矛盾的事实,建设删除中外合资法中关于哪一方任总经理哪一方任副总经理的规定,而将合资企业选择经营管理层的权力交给市场,交给合资企业的各方,而不作强制性的规定,以便减少未来冲突的可能性。

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