Vivi Toilet Water
Shown are Vivi Toilet Water's ad in the early 1900s and its ad today.

A dispute between an executive and the controlling shareholder caused the share price of Shanghai Jahwa United Co. Ltd. (SHA:600315) to plummet recently, and small investors in one of the oldest companies in China were angered by the heavy losses they suffered, according to the Financial Times.

Shanghai Jahwa, a legendary cosmetics company, was called Hong Kong Kwong Sang when it was founded in 1898, and made its name before China came under Communist rule with a product called Shanghai Vive toilet water, which features two girls in Chinese dresses in its famous ad. Recently, however, the company has endured a series of dramatic and public incidents.

Vivi Toilet Water's ad from the early 1900's and its ad today.

On May 13, Ping An Trust announced that Ge Wenyao, the chairman and general manager of Jahwa Group, a holding company that owns 26.8 percent of Shanghai Jahwa, has been removed from his position. Ge had led the company for 29 years, the Financial Times reported.

Ping An Trust cited reports that the management had set up “little treasuries” in the group, and that some senior leaders were suspected of financial irregularities. Ge immediately denied the allegations via his Sina Weibo account.

“Jahwa’s capital increased to tens of billions from millions yuan, there was no illegal activity at all. At most we played close to the edge sometimes,” Ge wrote, according to the Financial Times. “But if we had not, Jahwa would have died a long time ago.”

As a result of this public conflict, Shanghai Jahwa’s share price fell for two days straight, plunging 15.3 percent by the end of May 14.

Angered by such a share-price loss, shareholders gave vent to their feelings at Shanghai Jahwa annual stockholders’ meeting on May 16. A video of the meeting shows a woman saying she had invested tens of millions of renminbi in the company, and Ping An’s decision to remove Ge had cost her a fortune, the Financial Times reported.

Ge apologized for investors’ losses at the meeting and promised to “repair relations with the [controlling] shareholder.” Most small investors were on Ge’s side. After the meeting, Shanghai Jahwa’s stock began to rise again, and it closed Thursday at 65.08 yuan ($10.59), a 3.32 percent increase, according to 21CN, a Chinese-language financial-news website. It finished Friday at 65.29 yuan ($10.62).