Being in charge of a large Chinese company or investment firm might be one of the most dangerous jobs out there at the moment.
On Wednesday, Chang Xiaobing, CEO of the state-owned telecoms giant China Telecom, resigned after becoming the latest Chinese executive to go missing amid a government-led nationwide crackdown on corruption.
Multiple high-profile executives have gone missing in recent months, in the wake of China’s stock market crash. As many as 36 companies reported executives missing from January to September, according to a Bloomberg report.
Sign up for China Watch for weekly emails on Chinese real estate investments.
The Beijing-based independent magazine Caijing reported on Sunday that Xiaobing was “lost” and uncontactable via mobile phone. The report said he had been “taken away because of serious disciplinary review,” and it featured a picture claiming to show his office had been sealed.
What is clear is his fate isn’t unique. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of some of the highest-profile and most important execs who have gone missing:
- In December, 48-year-old Guo Guangchang, known as “China’s Warren Buffett,” who is the head of China’s Fosun Group, went missing. Guo is worth an estimated $6.9 billion (£4.5 billion). His investment group, Fosun, owns Club Med and Cirque du Soleil among others. He reappeared in the U.S. after about a week spent out of contact.
- Yim Fung, chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong-listed Guotai Junan International Holdings, went missing in November. Guotai shares tumbled 12% when his disappearance was announced.
- Two senior executives, Chen Jun and Yan Jianlin, of China’s Citic Securities — the firm at the centre of a government investigation into China’s stock-market rout — disappeared in November. Their involvement in the investigation brings to at least 10 the number of Citic Securities executives implicated in the investigations to determine the causes of the stock plunge that wiped out $5 trillion of market value.
- Zhang Yun, president of the Agricultural Bank of China, one of China’s four massive, state-owned banks, was detained in October as part of a corruption investigation. The bank is ranked as the world’s third-largest bank with $2.7 trillion in assets, according to SNL Financial.
- Poon Ho Man, CEO of China Aircraft Leasing Group, resigned by letter while on holiday in June and hasn’t been in contact since.
- Xu Jun, chairman of the department-store operator Ningbo Zhongbai, disappeared and couldn’t answer questions over his personal connection with the hedge fund manager Xu Xiang, who is under investigation for suspected insider trading, according to the official Xinhua news agency.