China Renaissance CEO Vanishes Amid Renewed Clampdown on Chinese Finance Industry
China Renaissance, an investment bank and private equity firm based in Beijing, has confirmed it has lost contact with its chairman, executive director, CEO, and controlling shareholder, Fan Bao. In a Thursday filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, the company said it was “not aware of any information that indicates that Mr. Bao’s unavailability is or might be related to the business and/or operations of the group, which is continuing normally.”
On Friday, shares in China Renaissance tumbled 50% in Hong Kong trading due to a notice from the company to the stock exchange indicating it had been unable to reach Bao Fan. The prominent billionaire and tech investor is known for his ability to broker difficult mergers and acquisitions, including ones that led to the formation of Didi Global Inc. and Meituan.
The disappearance of Mr. Bao – one of China's leading tech investors – has again evoked a history of Chinese executives suddenly vanishing for periods of time with no explanation. The notable absence of Fosun group founder Guo Guangchang, who has been likened to Warren Buffet of China, is notable. He vanished for several days in 2015. Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was also taken in 2017 and received a 13-year jail sentence under corruption charges last August. Jack Ma, the creator of tech giant Alibaba, had not been seen in public for a year following his critical remarks about China's financial regulators, until his reappearance in late 2021.
The company did not specify how long Mr. Bao had been missing, however Chinese business newswire Caixin cited sources saying staff had not been able to contact him for two days. According to Chinese business newswire Caixin, the financial services firm recently dealt with a similar incident in September 2022 when the firm’s president, Cong Lin, was taken by authorities over his work at the state-owned ICBC bank.
The disappearance of high-profile banker Bao Fan is fueling speculation of a renewed clampdown on China's finance industry as President Xi Jinping persists in his longstanding campaign against corruption. Willer Chen, a senior analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia, told Bloomberg the executive’s absence “could be a long-term overhang on the stock, given Bao is the key man for the company.
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1. “A Highflying Chinese Financier Is Missing. Why It May Be a Warning for Alibaba.” Barron's, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.barrons.com/articles/alibaba-hong-kong-stock-price-meituan-didi-bao-fan-renaissance-cb36d5c1
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