Authorities in Shanghai have detained Guo Guangchang, one of China’s richest men and the chairman of Fosun International.
Shares in the Hong Kong-listed company were halted Friday after news broke that employees hadn’t seen the 48-year-old, often called China’s Warren Buffet, since noon on Thursday.
One of China’s most respected financial magazines, Caixin, reported that the tycoon had been seen with police at a Shanghai airport, fueling speculation that Guo has been arrested or otherwise detained by authorities.
On Friday evening, a statement from Fosun confirmed that Guo is “currently assisting in certain investigations carried out by mainland judiciary authorities.”
This follows the billionaire’s link to a corruption court case back in August, in which the head of a state-owned corporation was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Chinese president Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption campaign more than three years ago. Until now, the purge has dealt mainly with politicians and numerous executives at state-owned companies.
Guo’s detention, as well as the disappearance and detention of half a dozen security industry figures in China since August, points to a broadening of the country’s anti-corruption probe beyond state-owned enterprises.
“We are still in shock,” a Fosun source was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post. “Guo is very cautious in his handling of the government. As he often tells us, stay close to politics, but stay away from politicians.”
Fosun has a diverse portfolio of interest, including in fashion and retail, and has been expanding aggressively overseas over the past two years.
The investment firm is perhaps best known internationally as the owner of Club Med and Cirque du Soleil, but they have also heavily invested in brands such as St. John, Folli Follie, Tom Tailor and Caruso.
Fosun also has numerous retail interests in China, including Yuyuan, which mainly deals in commercial retail, as well as wholesale gold and jewelry retail.
In August, the Shanghai-based firm received city approval to create 200,000 square feet of retail space beneath 28 Liberty Street, the Financial District office tower formerly known as 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.
According to the statement from Fosun, Guo “may continue to take part in decision makings of the company’s major matters by appropriate means.”
China’s Hurun rich list this year named Guo the country’s 17th richest person with an estimated wealth of 50 billion yuan (or $7.8 billion at current exchange).