Chinese investor goes missing

China Renaissance, an investment bank and private equity firm based in Beijing, has reported that its chairman and CEO, Bao Fan, has become unreachable. The firm said in a Thursday filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange that it “has been unable to contact” Bao. Following this news, shares of the company plunged as much as 50% in Hong Kong on Friday. The stock closed down 28%. Bao is a veteran dealmaker in China’s tech industry and helped broker the 2015 merger between two of the country’s leading food delivery services, Meituan and Dianping.

Bao started his investment banking career in the late 1990s at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse and later went on to serve as an adviser to the stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen. His team has invested in US-listed Chinese electric vehicle makers Nio (NIO) and Li Auto and helped Chinese internet giants Baidu (BIDU) and JD.com (JD) complete their secondary listings in Hong Kong. However, Bao did not immediately respond to messages from CNN on WeChat on Friday, while China Renaissance hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

This sudden disappearance of Bao is not new to China, where it is not uncommon for executives to suddenly drop off the radar with little explanation. In 2017, insurance giant Anbang warned shareholders that its chairman, Wu Xiaohui, wouldn’t be able to carry out his duties after he was reportedly detained by authorities as part of a government investigation. Anbang at the time cited “personal reasons” for his absence. Wu was eventually jailed for 18 years. In 2015, Guo Guangchang, the billionaire dubbed “the Warren Buffett of China,” was reported as missing by the conglomerate he ran. That group, Fosun, later confirmed that Guo was assisting authorities in an investigation.

The disappearance of Bao comes after another similar disruption at China Renaissance. According to Caixin, a respected Chinese financial news outlet, Chinese authorities detained Cong Lin, the company’s president, in September. Bao’s sudden disappearance follows those of other high-profile business leaders in China, indicating the Chinese government’s willingness to investigate and punish high-ranking officials for corruption and other violations. The government’s actions also raise concerns about the country’s business environment and potential risks for foreign investors.

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