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JD.com chief withdraws from day-to-day duties after arrest

Richard Liu says he will shift his focus to 'new businesses'

Richard Liu was taken into custody in early September on suspicion of rape in the U.S., but was released the next day.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- JD.com founder and CEO Richard Liu Qiangdong said he will remove himself from daily operations to concentrate on new businesses for China's second largest e-commerce company, in an apparent effort to reduce control after being arrested in the U.S. on rape charges.

"For me, personally, I will focus more on new businesses," Liu said in an earnings conference call with reporters Monday, speaking publicly for the first time since the arrest more than two months ago. "For mature businesses, our team can handle that."

The company's mainstay e-commerce, logistics and finance arms will be run by the chiefs of each segment.

Liu was arrested Aug. 31 in Minnesota on rape allegations, but was released soon after and has resumed his normal duties. Police there finished conducting their investigation and referred the case to prosecutors, who are apparently continuing to investigate, according to U.S. media.

JD.com, meanwhile, booked a 3 billion yuan ($432 million) net profit for the quarter ended September, roughly triple the year-earlier figure. Revenue climbed 25% on the year to 104.8 billion yuan, thanks to brisk e-commerce operations, but fell short of analysts' estimates.

Logistics services, which the company sees as a key segment behind e-commerce, were also strong. Home deliveries of goods sold through its online retail platform, as well as growing requests from other companies to handle their home deliveries, also contributed to higher earnings.

But JD.com's share price has languished since Liu's arrest. The stock fell 8.4% on Nasdaq Monday from its closing price Friday on concerns about core operations, as the trade war creates uncertainty in Chinese consumer spending.

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