December 14, 2015 / 2:31 AM / in 2 years

Fosun's chairman makes first public appearance after assisting China probe

3 Min Read

Billionaire Guo Guangchang, Executive Director and Chairman of Fosun International, attends the annual general meeting of the Chinese conglomerate in Hong Kong, China May 28, 2015.Bobby Yip

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Fosun International (0656.HK) Chairman Guo Guangchang attended a company meeting in Shanghai on Monday, two people at the event told Reuters, his first public appearance since a report he had gone missing last week sparked speculation the firm was being drawn into Beijing's corruption crackdown.

Guo, a self-styled student of investor Warren Buffett, did not say where he had been, or make any reference to a Fosun statement on Sunday that said he had been assisting the Chinese authorities in an investigation, an executive who declined to be named said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Instead, Guo discussed Fosun's strategy and performance, receiving a standing ovation from the people gathered at a Shanghai hotel for the meeting, the sources said.

Both sources declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media. A Fosun spokeswoman declined to give any details about the meeting.

Guo's alleged disappearance late last week had sparked investors concern about its impact on Fosun, one of China's most aggressive global dealmakers with stakes French resort chain Club Med, Britain's Thomas Cook Group (TCG.L) and iconic U.S. building One Chase Manhattan Plaza.

A string of senior Chinese executives have gone missing temporarily this year, amid a widespread government crackdown on corporate graft, especially in China's financial sector.

Negative Impact

Fosun International's Hong Kong-listed shares were suspended on Friday after reports of Guo's disappearance late on Thursday triggered a sell-off in the firm's overseas depository receipts (FOSUY.PK) in New York.

Resuming trade on Monday, Fosun's Hong Kong shares plunged 13.5 percent before recouping some losses, as investors remained wary a day after Fosun's president Wang Qunbin said all current deals were "proceeding normally" and the firm would buy back shares if stock prices fluctuated.

Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd (600196.SS), also suspended on Friday, dropped over 10 percent on Monday.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's said Guo's involvement in the probe had yet to impact Fosun's credit ratings and outlook, but an "extended investigation" could negatively impact the firm's access to funding and pending acquisitions.

Guo, 48, has built an empire stretching from insurance and banking to healthcare and leisure, amassing a personal net worth of $5.7 billion (£3.75 billion), according to Forbes.

Reporting by Engen Tham; Additional reporting by Shu Zhang in BEIJING and SHANGHAI newsroom; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Miral Fahmy

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