Bao Fan, Missing Chinese Banker, Resigns After Investigation

Bao Fan, Missing Chinese Banker, Resigns After Investigation

After disappearing nearly a year ago amid an investigation by Chinese authorities, prominent investment banker Bao Fan has resigned as chairman and CEO of China Renaissance Holdings, the company said Friday.

Mr. Bao, a banker who handled deals for Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent, went missing last February. China Renaissance initially said it had lost contact with Mr. Bao, but later said he was cooperating with an investigation conducted by authorities in China.

Mr. Bao’s disappearance signaled an escalation in Beijing’s crackdown on the business elite as part of an anti-corruption campaign. This raised concerns about the lengths Chinese authorities would go to rein in powerful players in the domestic economy while expanding control over the financial regulatory system.

In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, China Renaissance said Mr. Bao was stepping down for “health reasons and to have more time for his family affairs.” The company did not explain the nature of the investigation conducted against Mr. Bao.

The company said that in addition to relinquishing his position as chairman, Mr. Bao also resigned from the company’s board.

“Mr. “Bao has confirmed that he has no disagreements with the board and there are no other matters related to his resignation that need to be brought to the attention of the company’s shareholders,” China Renaissance said.

Mr. Bao was a well-connected banker at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse before founding China Renaissance in 2004, which invested in many of the country’s most successful technology companies and helped them go public in Hong Kong and New York.

Xie Yijing, who served as interim chief executive during Mr. Bao’s absence, was named chairman and permanent head of China Renaissance, according to the filing.

Before Mr. Bao’s disappearance, Cong Lin, another China Renaissance executive, was arrested by authorities in 2022 as part of an investigation into his dealings before he joined the company.

China has targeted financial firms to rein in companies and executives in the name of strengthening national security. Over the past year, Chinese authorities have targeted and conducted raids on several consulting firms with foreign ties. In November, China’s Ministry of State Security said it was a “faithful guardian of financial security.”

On Tuesday, an article on the ministry’s WeChat page titled “Ten Cups of Tea” — a reference to the “summon for tea” euphemism for questioning — the agency laid out 10 measures that would raise suspicion under China’s counterespionage law. A change in the law last year broadened the definition of what constitutes espionage. This raised concerns that workers at foreign companies could be charged for participating in normal business activities such as gathering information about industries and competitors.

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2024-02-02 10:11:59