China Renaissance bank says missing chairman Bao Fan is assisting Chinese investigators

Sources say Mr Bao Fan is helping the Chinese authorities investigate China Renaissance president Cong Lin. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING – China Renaissance Holdings said in an exchange filing on Sunday that its missing chairman and star dealmaker Bao Fan was currently cooperating with the relevant Chinese authorities conducting an investigation.

This is the first time the mainland China-based boutique bank has given a reason for the disappearance of its founder, though no details about the investigation were shared.

“The board would like to reiterate that the business and operations of the group are continuing normally,” the bank said in the exchange filing.

Reuters previously reported, citing sources, that the authorities took Mr Bao away earlier in February to assist in an investigation into a former colleague, Mr Cong Lin, the company’s former president.

Shares of the company slumped last week after it said in an exchange filing that the company had been unable to contact Mr Bao.

The dealmaker’s disappearance was the latest in a series of cases of high-profile Chinese executives going missing with little explanation during a sweeping anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China Renaissance has advised and invested in many of China’s most successful tech companies, taking them public in Hong Kong and New York.

Mr Bao, 52, is one of many Chinese born in the 1960s and 1970s who benefited from policies that opened up China. His parents were diplomats, and he was exposed to the outside world before most of his generation.

He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Norway, and worked for Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse after graduation.

In 2004, Mr Bao founded China Renaissance to focus on the budding Internet industry.

The bank’s best years were between 2015 and 2017, when hot Chinese start-ups were raising as much funding as their peers in Silicon Valley.

Mr Bao helped put together three of the four mega mergers in 2015 that produced dominant Internet companies such as Didi, which was China’s answer to Uber, and the meal delivery giant Meituan.

Analysts have said Mr Bao’s disappearance has undercut Beijing’s new priority to restore business confidence after ending its “zero-Covid” policy and crackdowns on the private sector.

It threatens to upend the government’s promise that it supports private enterprise and would provide legal protection for the business class. REUTERS

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