Bao Fan, the billionaire founder and chairman of boutique investment bank China Renaissance Holdings Ltd., has not been in contact with the company lately. First reported by Caixin, the Hong Kong-listed company later issued a statement that it was unable to reach Bao, but business and operations remained normal.
China Renaissance added that the executive directors of the company, including Xie Yijing and Wang Lixing, will continue to oversee daily operations.
Bao, who previously worked at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, founded China Renaissance in 2005. In its early days, China Renaissance engaged in private equity advisory services. It also provided financial advisory services for customers in the “new economy” (a buzzword referring to new high-growth industries that are on the cutting edge of technology and believed to drive economic growth and productivity). In 2015, the financial institution participated in 13 M&A cases, which made young Bao famous in the industry.
Bao is a controlling shareholder of China Renaissance. After increasing his holdings by 108,000 shares on October 7, 2022, he held a total of 277 million shares, or 48.81% of the stock.
Bao’s last public appearance was in early December 2022 at the Future Science Prize award ceremony. According to local media outlet TMT Post, Bao’s silence is related to China Renaissance president Cong Lin’s illegal dealings in the ship leasing business. Bao is cooperating with official investigations.
Cong Lin joined the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in 1990 and became the chairman and president of ICBC International in 2016. Soon thereafter, ICBC Financial Leasing, a wholly owned subsidiary of ICBC, granted a loan of $200 million to China Renaissance in October 2017. After obtaining fresh funds from Hong Kong IPO, the company repaid the loan in September 2018. Cong was invited by Bao to leave ICBC International and serve as president of China Renaissance and chairman of China Renaissance Securities (Hong Kong), with a salary of tens of millions of yuan.
It is difficult to predict how Bao’s absenteeism will impact the company. Its September 2022 interim report showed that China Renaissance had entered an agreement in May 2021 that if Bao is no longer the single largest shareholder of the company, or if he no longer serves as the chairman of the board of directors, compulsory repayment will be triggered.
According to data of 106 securities companies compiled by the Securities Association of China in 2021, China Renaissance has total assets of 3.708 billion yuan ($539 million), ranking 94th, while the net assets, operating income, and net profit are 2.646 billion yuan ($385 million), 350 million yuan ($50 million), and 17.94 million yuan ($2 million), ranking 89th, 97th, and 92nd, respectively.