Mysterious disappearance of a prominent businessman in China

Mysterious disappearance of a prominent businessman in China

Chinese businessman Bao Fan, very prominent in his country’s tech world, is missing, his group announced without further explanation, whose operation was wound up in Hong Kong on Friday.

Bao Fan, 52, is the founder of China Renaissance, a large Chinese private investment bank specializing in technology investments.

The group notably oversaw the IPOs of several digital giants, including e-commerce specialist He is also the origin of a 2015 merger between local VTC champion Didi and a then-competitor, Kuaidi Dache.

China Renaissance “cannot contact (its CEO) Bao Fan,” the company said late Thursday without further explanation.

According to the business medium Caixin, Bao Fan has not been available since the beginning of the week.

On Friday, China Renaissance stocks fell more than 30% during the session on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, on which the group is listed, before closing down more than 28%.

“The unavailability” of Mr. Bao “appears unrelated to the company’s activity and/or operations, which continue as normal,” China Renaissance estimated in a press release.

Contacted by AFP, the group did not comment.

A prolonged absence of the head of China Renaissance “could have long-term implications for the stock because Bao-san is the key man of the company,” notes Willer Chen, an analyst at broker Forsyth Barr, cited by Bloomberg.

This disappearance is reminiscent of that of Canadian tycoon of Chinese descent, Xiao Jianhua, who vanished from a Hong Kong hotel in 2017.

He is said to be close to the top Chinese communist leaders and was kidnapped by Beijing agents, according to press reports.

Mr. Xiao was one of the richest men in China at the time of his arrest, with an estimated fortune of $6 billion.

The ex-businessman was eventually sentenced to 13 years in prison for fraud last year.

According to Caixin, Chinese authorities arrested China Renaissance chairman Cong Lin last September following an investigation into his work at the state-owned ICBC bank.

Mr Bao’s disappearance is raising fears of a new campaign to take over China’s financial sector as President Xi Jinping continues his long-running crusade against corruption.

Questioned during a regular press briefing on Friday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said he was “unaware of this information.”

“But I can tell you that China is a country governed by the rule of law,” he stressed, and “the Chinese government protects the legitimate rights of its citizens according to the law.”

China Renaissance was founded in 2005 and employs more than 700 people worldwide. It has a presence in Singapore and the United States.