China’s billionaire CEO Bao Fan disappears; Stock prices plummet

Beijing: Chinese dealmaker and founder of China Renaissance Holdings, Bao Fan, had disappeared, sending shares plummeting on Friday, according to Al Jazeera.

Chinese Renaissance Holdings said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Market that the company could not reach Bao.

“The Board is not aware of any information to indicate that Mr. Bao’s unavailability is or may be related to the Group’s normally continued business and/or operations,” China Renaissance said in the statement.

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

Listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2018, China Renaissance has invested in high-profile Chinese startups such as electric car maker NIO, in addition to providing advisory services.

It’s not uncommon for executives to disappear in China, where authorities can hold suspects for months or even years without charge or access to lawyers.

Bao’s disappearance has caused Renaissance stocks to plummet. From its bottom on Friday, Renaissance shares fell 50 percent to a record low of HK$5 in early trade, wiping out HK$2.8 billion (US$480 million) in market value, Global News reported. The stock regained some ground later in the day to finish down 28 percent. Nearly 30 million shares of the boutique investment bank changed hands on Friday, an all-time high.

“When a public company voluntarily discloses that a senior manager or major shareholder is unavailable, it is really unusual as the person may have been unavailable for some time,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at Kingston Securities.

Investors’ worst nightmare is that a company’s ability to continue operations is compromised, so a stock sale is not surprising given the uncertainty, Wong added.

Earlier, Jack Ma, the founder of tech giant Alibaba, withdrew from the public eye for a year after making critical comments about China’s financial regulators, before going public again in late 2021, Global News reported.

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

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

Critics say Xi, who has consolidated more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, has used the anti-corruption campaign as a thinly disguised ploy to purge political rivals, Al Jazeera reported. China’s billionaire CEO Bao Fan disappears; Stock prices plummet

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