Bao Fan Billionaire tech banker reported missing in China BBC

Bao Fan: Billionaire tech-banker reported missing in China

  • By Joel Guinto, Fan Wang and Frances Mao
  • BBC News

February 17, 2023 at 03:48 GMT

Updated 3 minutes ago

Image source, Getty Images

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Leading investment firm China Renaissance says it has not been able to contact CEO Bao Fan

One of China’s most high-profile billionaire bankers has disappeared, his company reported.

Bao Fan, chief executive officer of China Renaissance Holdings, has not been available for the past few days, the company said in a market update on Thursday.

Mr. Bao is a leading deal broker in China whose clients include top tech companies Didi and Meituan.

His firm’s announcement has renewed concerns about a possible Beijing crackdown on financial and technology metrics.

The investment firm’s shares plummeted on Friday after it told shareholders it “was unable to contact Mr. Bao Fan.”.

The board added that it was “not aware of any information to suggest that Mr. Bao’s unavailability is or may be related to the Group’s business and/or operations.”

When asked for further comment, China Renaissance referred the BBC to its announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The company did not say how long Mr. Bao had been missing. Chinese business intelligence service Caixin quoted sources as saying staff could not reach him for two days.

Business Wire also reported that the company’s president, Cong Lin, was arrested by authorities last September for his previous work at the state-owned ICBC bank.

China Renaissance does not appear to have commented on Mr. Cong’s situation – who is no longer listed as an executive on the company’s website and in its most recent interim report.

The disappearance of Mr. Bao – one of China’s top tech investors – has reignited a tale of Chinese executives suddenly disappearing for extended periods without explanation.

According to Forbes Magazine, at least half a dozen billionaires have temporarily disappeared in recent years following reports of clashes with the Communist Party.

In several cases they were suspected of being involved in corruption, tax or other wrongdoing investigations.

Notable absences included that of Fosun Group founder Guo Guangchang, dubbed the Warren Buffet of China, who disappeared for several days in 2015.

Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was also arrested in 2017 and jailed for corruption last year.

At the end of 2020, Alibaba founder Jack Ma also disappeared from public view for three months after criticizing market regulators. He should publicly list his digital payments company, Ant Financial – which would most likely have made him the richest man in China.

Mr. Bao is considered a major player in China’s tech industry, having completed some of its biggest mergers — including those of ride-hailing apps Didi and Kuaidi, and food-delivery platforms Meituan and Dianping.

He founded China Renaissance in 2005, which has since grown into a major Chinese financial institution.

The bank acted as advisor to the IPOs of e-commerce sites and Kuashou, as well as Didi’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2021.