A tycoon known as “China’s Warren Buffett” and said to be the country’s eleventh richest person has gone missing, reports said on Friday, indicating he might have been picked up by police on corruption charges.
Guo Guangchang, chairman of the country’s largest private sector corporation, the Fosun group, has not been contactable since Thursday afternoon, financial magazine Caixin reported.
The Caixin report said Guo, 48, was last seen in Shanghai. The report quoted social media messages as saying he was last seen with police escorting him out of a Shanghai airport.
The reports about Guo going missing, observers said, was a sign that China had widened its anti-graft campaign beyond state-run companies. A crackdown launched three years ago by President Xi Jinping has resulted in the arrest of thousands of officials and employees of state-owned companies.
The state-run Xinhua news agency said in a report: “Media reports linked his disappearance to an investigation by the authorities.”
According to Forbes ranking for 2015, Guo’s net worth is $6.9 billion. He is the chairman of the conglomerate that owns Club Med and other businesses in Europe and the US.
The Caixin report added: “The conglomerate Guo co-founded and managed operates in several industries including real estate, mining, retail and investment. In the past few years, it has quickly expanded into the financial sector, acquiring insurers and other companies in the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia.”
Besides owning 45.84% of Fosun International, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Fosun Group, he holds shares in a number of companies. Fosun halted the trading of its shares in Hong Kong after news about its missing chairman spread.
The Xinhua report said: “Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) and four other firms which Fosun has a controlling stake suspended trading on Friday, including Hainan Mining, Nanjing Iron & Steel Co, and Shanghai Ganglian, after the news broke on Thursday afternoon that Fosun’s chair Guo Guangchang had gone AWOL.”
Guo had earlier denied any wrongdoing when graft charges surfaced against him.
In August, a Shanghai court found Guo had inappropriate connections to Wang Zongnan, chairman of a state-owned company who was sentenced to 18 years in jail for misusing 195 million Yuan in corporate funds.
“It is very likely he’s been asked by the Chinese authorities to cooperate in an investigation. He is not being investigated himself,” an unnamed source told the BBC.
“Guo Guangchang, known as ‘China’s Warren Buffett’ has been transforming conglomerate Fosun International into an insurance-focused investment group. Earlier this year Fosun spent $1.84 billion on the 80% of US insurer Ironshare that it didn’t already own,” Forbes wrote about him earlier this year.