The Irish Times

‘Chinese Warren Buffett’ reported as missing

- CLIFFORD COONAN in Beijing

Guo Guangchang, the co-founder and chairman of China’s biggest private investment conglomera­te, has been missing since Thursday afternoon, local media report, saying the Fosun Group chief was last seen with police in Shanghai.

Mr Guo, who has described himself as the “Chinese Warren Buffett”, is the latest in a series of senior business figures to go missing in China, and there has been speculatio­n his disappeara­nce could be part of a widening dragnet into corruption and abuse of power in the country, which has spread to the corporate world.

“The developmen­t comes amid speculatio­n that he has been put under investigat­ion for graft,” said the Chinese financial news service Caixin.

Seized at airport

Caixin cited witnesses saying they had seen police taking Mr Guo away at a Shanghai airport after a flight from Hong Kong. He is one of China’s richest men and Fosun invests in everything from movies to coalmines to property, and the Club Med holiday group.

Mr Guo (48) has denied links to a corruption investigat­ion but was found in August to have “inappropri­ate links” to Wang Zongnan, a close ally of former leader Jiang Zemin.

Mr Wang is a former chairman of Bright Foods, which owns Weetabix and has explored co-operation with Glanbia. Mr Wang was sentenced to 18 years in jail for misusing 195 million yuan (¤27.57 million) in corporate funds when he ran state-owned enterprise­s. Trading in shares in two of the group’s stock market listed companies, Fosun Internatio­nal and Fosun Pharmaceut­ical, was halted yesterday.

Mr Guo is just the latest in a long list of suspended or “disappeare­d” Chinese bankers and finance heads, after president Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-graft campaign spread to the financial sector this year.

There have been several senior figures caught up in corruption

‘‘ There is speculatio­n Guo Guangchang may be part of a corruption inquiry

investigat­ions, with focus on the financial services industry after the stock market crash in the summer that wiped more than ¤4.5 trillion off the value of the markets.

Mao Xiaofeng, president of China Minsheng Bank, was detained in January as part of a probe into Ling Jihua, the one-time top aide of former president Hu Jintao. Zhang Yun, president of China’s third-largest bank, Agricultur­al Bank of China, quit all his posts this month after he became embroiled in a probe.

Chen Hongqiao, president of Guosen Securities, hanged himself at home in Shenzhen in October after he was tied to an investigat­ion into the stock market regulator.

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