Bao, who is also an executive director of the bank, is a prominent figure in the Chinese tech industry and has had a major impact on the development of several domestic internet startups.
On Thursday, the company informed the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it had been unable to contact Bao, but did not provide any further details. Shares in the company plummeted up to 50%, but recovered slightly to sit around 30% down. According to financial news outlet Caixin, the 52-year-old dealmaker had been unreachable for two days as of Thursday evening.
Concerns over the potential for new crackdowns on China’s finance sector have been raised in response to Bao’s disappearance. Given that he is the company’s key figure, the executive’s continued absence could have a long-term negative impact on the stock, according to Willer Chen, a senior analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia. China Renaissance did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.
With offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York, China Renaissance is a large international financial institution. The group oversaw the initial public offerings of a number of domestic internet behemoths, including top e-commerce company JD.com. The 2015 merger of Kuaidi Dache and Didi, the two biggest ride-hailing companies at the time, was made possible by Bao.
Bao’s disappearance is comparable to the recent trend of investigations into influential financiers in China. Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was detained by mainland authorities in 2017 and sentenced to 13 years in prison in August on corruption-related charges. The billionaire was allegedly kidnapped by Beijing police officers in plainclothes from his hotel room in Hong Kong.
One of the wealthiest men in China, with an estimated net worth of $6 billion, Xiao was well known for his close ties to senior Chinese Communist Party figures. Cong Lin, the president of China Renaissance, was detained in September of last year as a result of an investigation into his work at the state-owned bank ICBC’s financial leasing division.
When questioned about Bao’s disappearance, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said he was unaware of the pertinent details. However, he asserted that China is a nation that upholds the rule of law and that its government upholds the legal rights of its citizens.