The mystery behind China's 'missing' bosses

Guo Guangchang Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang has described himself as a student of renowned US investor Warren Buffett

It seems like almost every week there's news of a mysterious disappearance at a Chinese financial firm.

Just three weeks ago, Guotai Securities announced that it had "lost" its Hong Kong based boss, Yim Fung.

There's possibly nothing more damaging for a firm than admitting your chief executive has gone missing - which is why it's not surprising shares in the Hong Kong listed Guotai fell sharply on the news.

And then there were the two investment bankers at Citic Securities - the biggest brokerage on the mainland - going missing earlier this week.

Now, Fosun International - one of China's most prominent asset management firms - has said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that its shares have been suspended.

This comes as reports emerge that its chairman, Guo Guangchang, has gone missing.

One report in the Chinese business magazine Caixin said Mr Guo has been missing since Thursday.

It's not clear yet what has happened to him, or whether he is, indeed, missing. Fosun has not confirmed or denied these reports.

China's Warren Buffett

Mr Guo is something of a legend in China.

He styled himself after the US investment magnate, Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha", and wanted to transform his conglomerate, Fosun, into a top asset management firm.

He did precisely that. When he started the firm in 1992 it was with a handful of students. Today it is a multi-billion dollar investment firm, with assets and stakes all over the world, and business interests ranging from insurance to pharmaceuticals.

Fosun has made a number of international acquisitions recently, including a stake in French holiday operator Club Med, and is a shareholder in global media companies such as Forbes.

The speculation over his disappearance comes against a backdrop of a number of mysterious cases in the past few months where high profile Chinese executives have gone missing.

Around the middle of the year, Beijing launched a series of investigations into brokerages that the government suspected of profiting from the dramatic falls on the Chinese stock markets.

Some in Hong Kong and China's financial circles believe that this is part of the wider anti-corruption campaign that Beijing launched to clean up various pillars of China's economy - which now includes the financial sector.

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