Bao Fan, missing Chinese banker, resigns after investigation

Bao Fan, missing Chinese banker, resigns after investigation

After disappearing nearly a year ago as part of 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 closed deals for Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent, disappeared last February. China Renaissance initially said it had lost contact with Mr. Bao before later announcing that he was cooperating with the investigation by authorities in China.

Mr. Bao’s disappearance signaled an escalation of Beijing’s crackdown on the business elite as part of an anti-corruption drive. This has raised concerns about the lengths to which Chinese authorities will go to subjugate powerful players in the domestic economy, while working to extend control over its financial regulatory system.

In a filing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, China Renaissance said Mr. Bao would step down “for health reasons and to spend more time on his family affairs.” The company did not clarify the nature of the investigation conducted by Mr. Bao.

In addition to relinquishing his position as CEO, Mr. Bao resigned from the company’s board of directors, the company said.

“Mr. Bao stressed that he has no disagreement with the Board of Directors and there is no other matter related to his resignation that needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the company.

Mr. Bao was a well-connected banker at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse before he founded China Renaissance in 2004. The firm has 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 had been serving as interim CEO during Mr. Bao’s absence, was named chairman and made permanent chairman of China Renaissance, according to the filing.

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

China has targeted financial companies as part of its efforts to rein in companies and executives in the name of enhancing national security. Over the past year, Chinese authorities have targeted and raided several consulting firms with foreign ties. In November, China’s Ministry of State Security said it was the “strong guardian of financial security.”

On Tuesday, in an article on the ministry’s WeChat page titled “Ten Cups of Tea” — a reference to being summoned “to tea” as a euphemism for questioning — the agency outlined 10 actions that would raise suspicions under China’s counterintelligence law. . A review of the law last year broadened the definition of what constitutes espionage, raising concerns that workers at foreign companies could be involved in normal business activities such as gathering information about industries and competitors.

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