China Renaissance Founder Bao Fan Missing; What Does it Mean For the Future of Chinese Finance?
China's business world was shaken on Thursday when investment bank China Renaissance Holdings announced that it had lost touch with its founder and chairman, Bao Fan. The announcement sent China Renaissance's share price plunging by as much as 50% in early trade on Friday.
Bao Fan is a leading dealbroker in China whose clients include top tech companies such as Didi and Meituan. He founded China Renaissance in 2005 as a boutique advisory investment firm and it has since grown into one of the country’s top financial institutions, executing deals and mergers between several of China's tech companies.
It was not stated by the company how long Bao had been absent. According to sources cited by Chinese business newswire Caixin, two days had passed without any contact with the staff being made.
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 little explanation.
Guo Guangchang, the founder of Fosun group, who is often referred to as the Warren Buffet of China, was a notable absentee at the event, having disappeared for a few days in 2015. Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua was taken in 2017 and last year was jailed for corruption.
The announcement from his company has led to worries that Beijing may be planning to crackdown on business and tech executives. The Chinese government is poised to name regulatory veterans known for their strict campaigns against financial wrongdoing as new chiefs of the country’s banking and securities watchdogs.
The news sent shockwaves through the investment community, with many fearing a renewed clampdown on China’s finance industry. A chill is running through the finance industry due to Bao's disappearance, which is not an uncommon occurrence when executives in China are being investigated by the government.
Bao Fan is a prominent financier and has been the go-to banker for some of China's biggest companies. At the close of June 2022, China Renaissance had a total of 48.6 billion yuan (roughly $7.1 billion) under its management, as stated in its most recent interim report.
Willer Chen, a senior analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia, stated that the stock could be heavily impacted in the long-term due to Bao being the key man for the firm. A China Renaissance spokesperson in New York declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday.
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1. “China Renaissance unable to contact CEO Bao Fan, shares plunge by 50% in early trade | Mint” Mint, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.livemint.com/news/world/china-renaissance-unable-to-contact-ceo-bao-fan-shares-plunged-by-50-in-early-trade-11676606537628.html
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4. “Top Chinese investment banker Bao Fan is latest CEO to go missing” CNN, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/17/investing/china-renaissance-ceo-bao-fan-missing-intl-hnk/index.html
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