One of China’s top investment banks has a big problem: It can’t find its CEO

Bao Fan is the founder and CEO of China Renaissance, one of the most prolific dealmakers in China's tech sector.
Tony Avelar—Bloomberg/Getty Images

On Thursday evening Hong Kong time, China Renaissance Holdings, a key dealmaker in the country’s tech sector, revealed that it was “unable to contact” Bao Fan, its founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder, in a filing with Hong Kong’s stock exchange.

The bank’s admission came after Chinese business outlet Caixin reported that bank employees and other market participants had been unable to contact Bao for several days. The billionaire banker did not answer calls or WeChat messages, reported Caixin.

Investors panicked in Friday trading, sending China Renaissance shares down by as much as 50% at one point. (Shares recovered slightly, and were down 28.2% when markets closed.)

In its filing, China Renaissance said that the company’s executive committee “will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of the Group.”

When reached for comment, China Renaissance directed Fortune to its stock exchange filing, and said it would “continue to make further announcement(s) as and when appropriate.”

CEOs going missing

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the situation, that Bao’s family was told the banker was assisting with an investigation. Bloomberg also reported that China Renaissance’s president, Cong Lin, is also involved in a probe.

Previously, Chinese CEOs caught up in official investigations have dropped out of contact. One such billionaire, Xiao Jianhua, founder of the Tomorrow Group, disappeared from a Hong Kong luxury hotel in 2017. Xiao was found guilty of bribery last year, and a court sentenced him to 13 years in prison and ordered him to pay billions of dollars in fines.

China launched a broad crackdown into the financial sector in October 2021, which had ensnared at least 40 officials by the following April, according to Bloomberg.

Bao Fan founded China Renaissance in 2005 after working at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. The investment bank soon became a key player in the country’s tech sector, advising major firms with M&A and public listings, including Didi Global’s controversial 2021 IPO in New York. The bank worked with large Chinese tech companies like food delivery company Meituan and e-commerce giant The bank is also an investor in China’s tech scene, backing companies like electric carmaker Nio.

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