On November 18, Guotai Junan Chairman and CEO Yim Fung went “missing.”
“We can’t find him,” the broker said, flatly.
Three weeks later, Citic Securities - China’s largest brokerage - lost all contact with Jun Chen, their head of investment banking, and Jianlin Yan, who runs investment banking at the company's overseas unit.
Where did Yim, Jun, and Jianlin “disappear” to you ask? Well we know Yim was detained in connection with a graft investigation involving Yao Gang, vice chairman of China’s securities regulator and given what we know about the Politburo’s renewed push crackdown on market “manipulators”, sellers, and those suspected of frontrunning purchases by the “national” plunge protection team over the summer, it’s likely Jun and Jianlin suffered the same fate as Gang Xu, another Citic executive who was “summoned” by authorities back in August.
On Thursday, we learn that yet another high profile businessman has apparently vanished and this time, it’s none other than “China’s Warren Buffett,” Guo Guangchang (worth some $7 billion at last count) whose conglomerate Fosun International is morphing into an insurance-focused investment group. Fosun spent more than $6 billion buying stakes in 18 overseas companies between February and July.
"Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, chairman of conglomerate Fosun Group, is unreachable," Bloomberg reports, citing Caixin.
The company says it's "handling the situation."
Recall that Fosun was among those bidding for Novo Banco, which was derived from the smoldering ashes of failed Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo (bids for Novo dried up during the summer, creating a budget headache for Lisbon).
Fosun’s stock plunged with the rest of the Chinese market over the summer, prompting Guo to issue the following colorful statement: "Amid a sheer panic in the market, we should be brave and act opposite to the crowd. There is always an abandoned pearl in any market with bubbles. In a market full of panic sentiment, even more such opportunities are hidden."
Yes, “hidden” opportunities and now Guo finds himself “hidden,” probably somewhere deep within the Politburo.
Whether Beijing is questioning Guo about his habit of eschewing investments in China in favor of deploying capital overseas or whether Fosun did something “wrong” in the markets during the selloff is hard to know, but one thing’s for certain: “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” is alive and well.