Chinese Banker Bao, Who Is Missing, Is Cooperating With Government’s Investigation: Company.
According to his investment bank, the missing Chinese CEO, Bao Fan, is helping the government with their investigation.
Bao disappeared earlier in February, and this is the first time China Renaissance has provided an explanation.
As Bao disappeared from view, the company’s shares fell 28%, leading some to label China “uninvestable.”
Booksellers, actors, and businessmen like billionaire Jack Ma are just a few of the well-known figures who have suddenly vanished, only to reappear later. Bao Fan, a Chinese banker who has most recently made headlines for disappearing, is apparently now in contact with local authorities. China Renaissance Holdings, Bao’s bank, has disclosed that the well-known dealmaker has been assisting an ongoing inquiry.
But, no information was released regarding the investigation, just like in previous situations when people vanished amid President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Almost a week after being unable to reach the chairman, the bank also refrained from disclosing the cause of Bao’s disappearance. The boutique lender’s stock fell sharply after learning that the banker had vanished, much like Jack Ma and former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei.
Jack Ma, who was once Asia’s richest man, abruptly disappeared for months before being discovered leading a tranquil life in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. On the other side, Hongwei went missing while travelling to France in 2018 and was later found guilty of bribery and given a 13-year prison sentence in 2020. Zhao Wei, the wealthiest and most well-known actress in the nation, made an appearance in her hometown a month after all of her online content and social media profiles were deleted.
The financial community trembled when China Renaissance Holdings, a major investment bank, claimed to have lost contact with Bao Fan, its founder. With new banking and securities watchdogs coming this year, many believed it might be a warning that another crackdown on the nation’s financial sector is in the works.
Executives frequently go “missing” in China, a country with a hazy legal framework. Sometimes they go back to work, and other times they end up in jail. In Bao’s case, the business only disclosed Bao’s involvement in an investigation with Chinese authorities around ten days later. What’s known about Bao is as follows:
What do we know about Bao Fan’s absence, and who is he?
One of China’s most active dealmakers is Bao, 52. He is renowned for his ability to mediate complex mergers and acquisitions disputes, including those that resulted in the establishment of Didi Global Inc. and Meituan.
Bao, a former banker for Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, is well-known in China’s business community for his extensive network of contacts across industries. China Renaissance, a Beijing-based company with a Hong Kong stock listing, said on February 16 that Bao’s absence had no impact on its operations.
Still, the announcement has severely hurt its stock. Sources said that on February 17 that Bao’s family had been informed that he was aiding with a probe that was probably connected to the former president of the China Renaissance, Cong Lin.
On February 26, the company declared in a stock market report that Bao was taking part in a Chinese government probe. It made no further mentions and implied that it had not spoken to Bao and was unaware of his whereabouts.
In China, what does a missing boss mean?
A suddenly absent boss has increasingly become an indicator of a police crackdown or probe in China. The person frequently becomes the focus of an inquiry into Chinese corruption or financial crimes or is referred to as “assisting” graft probes.
Frequently, the businesses themselves claim they have lost communication with the CEO and must conduct their own investigations into what transpired in China, a nation with murky disciplinary practices.
What happened earlier?
In China, it’s not unusual for executives to disappear when they’re the subject of an investigation by the government. Others finally went back to their work, while some were later discovered to have been imprisoned by the authorities.
Guo Guangchang, the chairman of Fosun, suddenly vanished in 2015 to assist with a government probe. He later reappeared, promising to make sure the company wasn’t dependent on just one person.
• Tomorrow Holding Co. financier Xiao Jianhua was deported from Hong Kong by Chinese officials in January 2017, according to a report from the South China Morning Post at the time. Chinese authorities found Xiao guilty in August 2022 of fraudulently collecting public deposits, breach of trust, bribery, and the illegal use of funds and sentenced him to 13 years in prison.
• Landing International Development Ltd., a casino operator, reported Yang Zhihui’s disappearance in August 2018. Three months later, though, he returned to work and gave the justification that he was helping law enforcement with an inquiry.
However, Landing announced in November 2022 that Yang had been suspended following the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong‘s initiation of legal action against him because he allegedly violated fiduciary obligations in connection with other business operations.
How does this affect investors?
CEOs going missing highlight a significant risk that investors in China face: key man risk. When Chinese executives whose names are synonymous with their enterprises face criticism, the stock market‘s value often plummets, and investors end up footing the bill. Key man risk is a problem everywhere, but it can be particularly severe in China due to the prominence of the country’s corporate founders.
Take Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group Holdings, for example. Even though Ma was never officially listed as “missing,” Alibaba shares suffered when he vanished from the public eye in November 2020 after officials scuttled an IPO for a subsidiary company called Ant Group Co.
It also signalled the beginning of a crackdown on the whole tech industry in China. Ma, who has maintained a low profile ever since, was reportedly handing over management of the business this year, according to Ant.
Will there be another crackdown on the banking sector?
Although it’s unclear, Bao’s absence has undoubtedly increased investor apprehension. Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated a massive anti-corruption investigation into the $60 trillion financial industry of the country in late 2021, which resulted in the resignation of dozens of officials.
The investigation also included members of the investment banking industry, including bankers from Everbright Securities Co. and Guotai Junan Securities Co. Sources said that on February 17, China is getting ready to appoint regulatory veterans known for their harsh campaigns against financial misconduct as the new heads of the nation’s banking and securities watchdogs.
The news of Bao’s participation has already significantly impacted China’s financial markets. Following the announcement, shares of China Minsheng Banking Corp. dropped precipitously due to investors’ worries about the consequences of the probe. Nonetheless, other observers think the collaboration may benefit the bank and the larger financial industry.
What lies ahead for Bao and China Minsheng Banking Corp. is still uncertain. Due to the government inquiry, there may be big changes within the bank and the larger financial industry, and further changes are probably in store in the upcoming weeks and months. But for the time being, the announcement of Bao’s collaboration has brought much-needed clarity to a case that has been clouded in ambiguity and rumours.
Financial markets have been rocked by the revelation that missing Chinese banker Bao is collaborating with a government investigation. Although the inquiry is still underway, the bank and the larger financial industry may benefit from the cooperation. We’ll have to wait and see how this story develops, but for the time being, it serves as a reminder of the value of accountability and openness in the financial sector.