China Renaissance, one of the country’s top tech sector dealmakers, said it would suspend trading of its shares and delay the release of its annual results as it remains unable to contact its founder.
Bao Fan, 52, launched a specialist investment bank in 2005 and has been uncontactable since mid-year. February, according to the company. China Renaissance shares have plunged since Bao’s disappearance, at one point falling as much as 50%.
China Renaissance said in late February that it had learned that Bao was “cooperating with an investigation” by some authorities in the country. He gave no further details.
Chinese media reported that Bao may take part in an investigation into a former China Renaissance executive.
In a document filed on Sunday, China Renaissance said auditors could not complete their work or sign their report due to Bao’s absence. The board was also unable to give an estimate of when it would be able to approve its audited results for 2022 or send its annual report by the April 30 deadline, as required by Hong Kong listing rules.
As a result, trading in the company’s shares was suspended from Monday.
Bao is known as a seasoned negotiator which works closely with the largest technology companies in China. He helped negotiate the 2015 merger between two of the country’s major food delivery services, Meituan and Dianping. Today, the combined company’s “super apps” platform is ubiquitous in China.
His team has also invested in US-listed Chinese electric vehicle makers Nio (NIO) and Li Auto, and helped Chinese internet giants Baidu (BIDU) and JD.com (JD) finalize their secondary listings in Hong Kong.
Over the weekend, China’s anti-corruption watchdog launched an investigation into Liu Liange, a former party secretary and chairman of the Bank of China, according to a statement from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervision Commission. The bank is state-owned and one of the country’s four largest lenders.
Liu is suspected of “serious violations of discipline and the law,” the statement said. He is among the top financial executives targeted by a broader financial crackdown led by President Xi Jinping.
In January, Wang Bin, a former party chief and chairman of China Life Insurance, was charged by domestic prosecutors with taking bribes and hiding savings overseas.
— Michelle Toh contributed reporting.