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 chief executive of China Renaissance Holdings, the company said on Friday.

Mr. Bao, a deal-making banker for Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent, went missing last February. China Renaissance initially said it had lost contact with Mr. Bao before later stating that he was cooperating with an investigation being carried out by the 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. It fueled concerns about the lengths that Chinese authorities would go to bring power players in the domestic economy to heel, while extending its control over its financial regulatory system.

In a filing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, China Renaissance said Mr. Bao was stepping down because of “health reasons and to spend more time on his family affairs.” The company did not explain the nature of the investigation Mr. Bao was under.

In addition to giving up his position as chief executive, the company said Mr. Bao had also resigned from the company’s board of directors.

“Mr. Bao has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the board and there is no other matter relating to his resignation that needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the company,” China Renaissance said.

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

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

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

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

On Tuesday, in an article on the ministry’s WeChat page titled “Ten Cups of Tea” — a nod to being called in “for tea” as a euphemism for being questioned — the agency laid out 10 actions that would raise suspicions under China’s counterespionage law. A revision to the law last year broadened the definition of what constitutes spying, fueling concerns that workers at foreign companies could be swept up for taking part in normal business activities such as collecting information about industries and competitors.

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