‘Missing’ China exec re-emerges

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NO LONGER MISSING  This photo taken on June 25 shows Guo Guangchang, the chairman of one of China’s biggest privatesector conglomerates, Club Med owner Fosun, attending a conference in Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. AFP PHOTO

NO LONGER MISSING
This photo taken on June 25 shows Guo Guangchang, the chairman of one of China’s biggest privatesector conglomerates, Club Med owner Fosun, attending a conference in Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. AFP PHOTO

BEIJING: The billionaire chairman of Fosun Group, one of China’s biggest privately-held conglomerates, re-emerged Monday after he  disappeared from public view in        connection with an investigation by authorities, Chinese media said.

Guo Guangchang, dubbed “China’s Warren Buffett”, attended Fosun Group’s annual meeting Monday morning, pictures posted by business magazine Caijing showed.

Guo had been out of contact since Thursday and two of  the group’s listed arms in Shanghai said in statements last week the 48-year-old was  “assisting in certain investigations” conducted by mainland authorities.

The statements stressed the probes had no “material adverse impact” on the finances or operations of the parent company and that Guo was able to take part in its decision making.


Caijing said Monday that Guo has “finalized” assisting in the inquiries and “returned home safely.”

It was not immediately clear what the investigation was in relation to, but it comes as China targets the financial sector as part of a sweeping anti-graft campaign after a stock market rout that rocked global markets over the summer.

Fosun spokeswoman Valentina Wu declined to comment when contacted by AFP Monday.
Fosun Group is one of China’s biggest private companies, and has interests in property, finance, pharmaceuticals, steel and entertainment, and has been aggressively buying assets in Europe and North America, including Club Med.

Police took Guo away at a Shanghai airport last week, according to Chinese media citing social media postings.

Other reports said he was being questioned in connection with a probe into former Shanghai vice mayor and director of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone Ai Baojun, who was placed under investigation last month by the Communist Party’s internal anti-graft body for “severe disciplinary violations,” a euphemism for corruption.

Ai’s wife was allegedly investigated on suspicion of manipulating the stock market. She died of kidney failure a week before Ai fell.

Shares plunge

Since coming to power Chinese President Xi Jinping has waged a much-publicized anti-corruption campaign that has ensnared a long list of officials, including the country’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang.

Chinese authorities have also launched wide-ranging probes into the financial sector following a rout in the country’s share markets this year when a debt-fuelled bubble burst.

Guo is China’s 17th richest person with a net worth of $5.6 billion, according to Bloomberg News. Fosun Group’s flagship subsidiary, Fosun International, has net assets of 50 billion yuan ($7.8 billion).

Guo is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a debating chamber that is part of the Communist Party-controlled governmental structure.

Shares in Fosun’s listed subsidiaries in Hong Kong and Shanghai resumed trading Monday after being suspended on Friday.

Fosun International plunged nearly 11 percent in Hong Kong, while Fosun Pharmaceutical dropped almost six percent in Shanghai and dived 11.65 percent in the former British colony.

Fosun International bought renowned French holiday company Club Med earlier this year and in April was part of a consortium that acquired Canadian entertainment juggernaut Cirque du Soleil. It also has a stake in British-based tour operator Thomas Cook.

AFP

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