China’s billionaire CEO Bao Fan disappears; share stock plunges

Beijing [China], February 20 (ANI): Chinese dealmaker and founder of the China Renaissance Holdings Bao Fan had gone missing sending shares plummeting on Friday, according to Al Jazeera.

Chinese Renaissance Holdings Ltd, in a filing to Hong Kong Stock Exchange Market, said that the company was unable to reach Bao.

"The board is 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," China Renaissance said in the statement.

Bao was also not seen in his office and has been unreachable for two days, Al Jazeera reported citing Caixin, a China-based financial news outlet.

China Renaissance was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2018 and has invested in high-profile Chinese startups such as electric carmaker NIO in addition to providing advisory services.

It is not uncommon for business executives to disappear in China, where authorities can detain suspects for months or even years without charge or access to legal representation.

Bao’s disappearance has led to the fall of shares of Renaissance. At its lowest point on Friday, Renaissance’s shares were down 50 per cent, to a record low of HK dollar 5 in early trade, wiping off HK dollar 2.8 billion (USD 480 million) in market value, Global News reported.

The stock regained some ground later in the day to end at 28 per cent down. Nearly 30 million shares of the boutique investment bank changed hands on Friday, the highest on record.

"If a listed company voluntarily discloses that a senior manager or a major shareholder cannot be contacted, it’s truly unusual, as the person might have been out of reach for some time," said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at Kingston Securities.

The investors’ worst nightmare is that a company’s ability to continue operations is impaired, so a stock sell-off is not surprising given the uncertainty, Wong added.

Earlier, Jack Ma, the founder of tech behemoth Alibaba, dropped out of public for a year after making critical comments about China’s financial regulators before reemerging in public in late 2021, reported Global News.

He was later seen in Tokyo amid the Chinese government’s crackdown on the country’s technology sector and its most powerful businessmen, according to a report by the British daily Financial Times.

Since taking power in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has led a sweeping crackdown on corruption that has ensnared tens of thousands of officials and business people.

Critics say Xi, who has consolidated power more than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, has used the anti-corruption drive as a thinly-disguised ploy to purge political rivals, reported Al Jazeera. (ANI)