Chinese billionaire tech banker Bao Fan is missing

Disappearance of Renaissance chair raises fears of fresh crackdown

Chinese billionaire tech banker Bao Fan is missing. The disappearance of the China Renaissance renegade chair is not a huge surprise but raises fears of a fresh crackdown on China’s finance industry

With billionaire boss either banged up or on the lam, Renaissance, one of the country’s top investment banks has plunged into turmoil.

‘Do not believe the rumours’

Chinese tech billionaire banker Bao Fan
Chinese tech banker Bao is ruthless, glamorous, fiendishly smart and perilously ambitious.

Bao Fan, the founder and executive director of China Renaissance, is a major figure in the Chinese tech industry and played an important role in the emergence of a string of large domestic Internet startups. Once called the Don Barzini of China’s tech world, tech banker Bao is ruthless and glamorous, fiendishly smart but dogged by vaulting ambition that was bound to get him into trouble eventually.

Shares in China Renaissance slumped after the bank announced to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday that it had been unable to contact Bao for two days, without giving further details. According to the Guardian, Renaissance stock plunged 50% at one point before clawing back to about 30% down.

The board of China Renaissance told employees not to worry in cheery a message on Friday morning…

“We believe that everyone has had a restless night. At this time, we hope that you do not believe, nor spread, rumours.”

A country under rule of law

tech banker Bao
Wang Wenbin for China’s foreign ministry was not aware of the Bao case, but said “China is a country under the rule of law.”

Bao’s disappearance is raising concerns over a possible renewed crackdown on China’s finance industry as President Xi Jinping persists in his longstanding campaign against anything and anyone he doesn’t like much and can brand “corrupt.”

Beijing has already come down hard on several big industries, including technology, education and real estate, as part of Xi’s drive to keep income distribution and the means of accumulating wealth “well-regulated.”

China is one of the few places where such a statement would not imply that the rich were about to get richer.

At least six billionaires have been cowed under Xi, including Jack Ma, the founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, who disappeared for three months in 2020 after criticising market regulators.

Willer Chen, a senior analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia, told Bloomberg the executive’s absence could be a long-term overhang on the stock, given Bao is the key man for the company.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said he was not aware of the relevant information regarding Chinese tech banker Bao, but assured other worried tech billionaires that…

“China is a country under the rule of law. The Chinese government protects the legitimate rights of its citizens in accordance with the law.”

Global financial institution

Chinese billionaire tech banker Bao Fan is missing | News by Thaiger
Desmond Shum speculated that Bao may have been a target because of his knowledge of shady deals.

China Renaissance is a global financial institution, with more than 700 employees and offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York.

Bao founded the bank in 2005 after working at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. He competed against Wall Street stalwarts to win mandates on huge deals and stock market listings.

The group has supervised the initial public offerings of several domestic Internet giants, including that of the leading e-commerce firm Bao also facilitated a 2015 merger between the ride-hailing firm Didi and its main rival at the time, Kuaidi Dache.

Desmond Shum, a Chinese former tycoon, speculated that Bao may have been a target because of his insider knowledge of such deals. Mergers of big companies often involve political as well as business connections.

Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua

China hands Canadian billionaire 13-year jail term
Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua received a 13-year jail sentence last August

The case of Chinese tech banker Bao is reminiscent of a pattern of investigations into the country’s leading financiers in recent years.

In 2017, the Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was arrested by mainland authorities and received a 13-year jail sentence under corruption charges last August.

Known to hold close ties to top Chinese Communist party leaders, the billionaire was reportedly abducted from his Hong Kong hotel room by plainclothes police officers from Beijing. At the time of his arrest, Xiao was one of the richest people in China, with an estimated fortune of US$6 billion.

According to the Guardian, the China Renaissance president, Cong Lin, was taken into custody last September as authorities launched an investigation into his work at the financial leasing unit of the state-owned bank ICBC.

Chinese billionaire tech banker Bao Fan is missing | News by Thaiger

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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