Canadian Manufacturing

Missing Chinese billionaire surfaces at company meeting

Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang, who went missing last week, did not address his disappearance while at his company's general meeting

BEIJING—The chairman of the Chinese conglomerate that owns Club Med and whose company said he was assisting an official investigation after he disappeared for a day last week, appeared Monday at a corporate meeting, two newspapers reported.

The government has released no details about Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang and Fosun has yet to say whether he was under investigation or was being questioned about other people.

A 3-year-old anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that has snared dozens of executives at state companies. A series of securities executives have disappeared or been detained since regulators launched an investigation after Chinese share prices plunged in June.

On Monday, Guo spoke at Fosun’s previously scheduled annual meeting, according to the newspapers China Business News and The Paper. Both quoted identical comments from him saying Fosun needs to expand globally but gave no indication whether he mentioned the investigation.

Photos on the papers’ websites showed Guo, 48, in a grey business suit and open-necked white shirt speaking at a podium and sitting with other executives.

Fosun suspended trading of its shares Friday after a business magazine reported the company was unable to contact Guo. The company issued a statement later that day saying Guo was “currently assisting in certain investigations carried out by mainland judiciary authorities.”

Employees who answered the phone Monday at Fosun’s headquarters said no one was working in the public relations department.

Guo was cited by a Shanghai court in August as being linked to the chairman of a state-owned supermarket chain who was sentenced to 18 years in prison on corruption charges. Fosun denied any wrongdoing in its dealings with the chairman.

Guo is one of China’s biggest investors abroad. Fosun, which he co-founded in the 1990s, has businesses in real estate, steel, mining and retailing.

The Financial Times dubbed him “China’s Warren Buffett” for following the legendary American investor’s approach of using the cash flow from insurance operations to buy other businesses.

Fosun won a bidding war this year to take over Club Mediterranee, the French resort operator. Last year, it paid 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for Portugal’s biggest insurance company, Caixa Seguros. In the United States, it owns Meadowbrook Insurance Group Inc., 20 per cent of insurer Ironshore Inc. and the 60-story office tower at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York City.

Guo has a net worth of $7.8 billion, according to the Hurun Report, which follows China’s wealthy.

In other cases, China’s biggest brokerage, state-owned Citic Securities Co., said last week it could not contact two of its top investment bankers. In September, the police ministry announced Citic’s general manager and other executives were suspected of insider trading and leaking sensitive information.

Last month, Citic and two other brokerages, Guosen Securities Ltd. and Haitong Securities Ltd., said separately they were under investigation. A star Chinese fund manager, Xu Xiang, was detained Nov. 2 on suspicion of insider trading, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

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