China’s top tech dealmaker Bao Fan has gone missing, according to his company China Renaissance, leaving one of the country’s leading investment banks in turmoil.
Bao founded China Renaissance in 2005 after stints at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, gradually turning the boutique advisory shop into one of China’s top financial institutions, often winning away tech financings and mergers from larger Wall Street rivals.
His disappearance comes despite Beijing appearing to ease away from its crackdown on the country’s tech companies which had battered China Renaissance’s business.
China Renaissance said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday evening that “the company has been unable to contact Mr Bao Fan” and was 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”.
The Beijing-based group said its executive committee would continue to manage day-to-day operations in Bao’s absence. Chinese business media outlet Caixin reported on Thursday that Bao had been unreachable for at least two days.
The turmoil at the bank began in September when the group’s president, Cong Lin, was taken away by Chinese authorities, according to Caixin.
Investors close to Bao said his problems were likely to be linked to Cong’s and hoped the company founder could be freed after providing information to authorities.
Bao’s disappearance makes him the latest in a long list of Chinese financial executives who have disappeared while being caught up in related corruption investigations in the mainland.
Mao Xiaofeng, the president of Minsheng Bank, disappeared in 2015 and was held for 21 months before being released on bail amid a corruption probe at the bank, according to domestic media reports. Yim Fung, the head of Chinese broker Guotai Junan International, was also detained in 2015 but released five weeks later after helping Chinese authorities with an investigation.
Since coming to power a decade ago, China’s leader Xi Jinping has carried out a ferocious anti-corruption campaign to take down many of China’s highest officials who have also tended to be his political rivals.
In China’s tech scene, Bao is known for his dedication and personal touch as he wrangles together financing for the country’s hottest start-ups or cajoles parties into a deal.
He closed the merger of food delivery group Meituan with restaurant rating platform Dianping by locking both sides in a Beijing hotel room for a day. China Renaissance later helped the merged company list in Hong Kong.
Bao holds a stake of nearly 50 per cent in China Renaissance, which has a HK$5.7bn (US$730mn) market cap in Hong Kong. The group said it was continuing to operate normally.
Additional reporting by Yuan Yang in London