Zhou Chengjian, missing ceo

SHANGHAI — Yet another Chinese billionaire is missing and presumed under investigation by authorities — this time he hails from the world of retail.

Zhou Chengjian, the founder and ceo of Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion & Accessories has not been contactable by colleagues since Thursday, the company confirmed. Also missing is the company’s board secretary Tu Ke.

Their disappearance comes after a series of stories in the Chinese media linking Zhou to a fund manager named Xu Xiang who was arrested for insider trading in November. Xu’s firm was reportedly once Metersbonwe’s third-largest shareholder, making tens of millions of dollars from trading in the company’s shares in the six months to April 2015.

Metersbonwe shares — the company has been listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange since 2012 — have suspended trading. When contacted by WWD, Metersbonwe declined to comment further.

One of China’s best-known homegrown fashion retailers, Metersbonwe has more than 4,000 stores across China. The youth fashion brand has fallen on tough times of late though, closing 800 physical stores in 2014, and then losing in excess of 90 million yuan, or $13.7 million at current exchange, in the first half of 2015.

Analysts quoted in Chinese media reports estimate the company’s full-year losses to be somewhere in the order of 250 million yuan for 2015, or $37.9 million at current exchange.

Despite the challenging business environment and increasing competition from foreign fast-fashion brands expanding at an impressing clip across China, Zhou rose to 62nd on the 2015 Hurun Rich List, with an estimated total wealth of 26.5 billion yuan, or just over $4 billion.

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