Minority shareholders in Hong Kong-listed arm China Cosco Holdings are said to be canvassing support for an EGM to call for Captain Wei’s head.

Under Chinese law disgruntled investors need the backing of just 10% of shareholders to force the shipowner to hold such a meeting.

The shareholders revolt is being led by Zhang Yuanzhong of the Beijing Wentian Law Firm.

Last week China CoscoHoldings warned investors of an expected full-year “significant net loss” of around $1.5bn.

Analysts had already been predicting a loss of CNY 7bn ($1.25bn) for 2012 on top of a CNY 10.4bn loss in 2011.

Under the Shanghai Stock Exchange's “three strikes and out” rule for A shares, a net loss in 2013 would mean delisting.

In September Captain Wei and second in command Ma Zehua won plaudits from investors after they said they would work for nothing until they turn in a profit.

The pair offered to waive their salaries and other compensation after China Cosco Holdings turned in a CNY4.9bn ($766m) interim net loss.

Last year Captain Wei was named the fifth most influential person in shipping in the TradeWinds Power 100.