Guo Guangchang, the billionaire Chinese businessman at the head of Fosun group, was spotted Thursday evening in New York City.
The news was reported by both the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, following a Chinese blogger who found himself in the same Midtown restaurant. According to other sources he may travel to Canada to visit the management of Cirque du Soleil.
Guo, one of China’s most prominent businessmen who has built the Fosun group of companies by emulating Warren Buffet, was reported missing over a week ago, causing speculation that he had been detained by authorities investigating corruption. During last weekend Fosun International confirmed that Guo was helping judicial services.
On Monday he reappeared at a company meeting in Shanghai, but the lack of explanation of about why he had been taken in for questioning led many to believe that Guo was only on temporary release. A trip to New York indicates that Chinese authorities have let him keep his passport and do not consider him to be a flight risk.
Guo, who has a personal fortune close to $10 billion, has recently expanded Fosun from pharmaceuticals and insurance into the entertainment sector with stakes in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, China’s Bona Film Group, Canada’s Cirque du Soleil and Korean talent management film SM Entertainment.
The welter of speculation caused Fosun International shares to fall after they began trading after a period of suspension. And the company’s shares and commercial paper were downgraded by ratings agencies.
Moody’s Investors Service changed its outlook on Fosun International’s Ba3 corporate family rating to negative from stable. “The change in outlook follows Fosun’s announcement on 11 December 2015 that Mr Guangchang Guo — executive director, chairman and the ultimate controlling shareholder of Fosun — had been assisting in certain investigations carried out by Mainland China’s judiciary,” Moody’s said in a statement.
Already some of Fosun’s deals may be jeopardized. These include currently in progress bids for Phoenix Holdings, BHF Kleinwort Benson, and Hauck & Aufhauser, a German bank.
However, Guo’s entertainment empire may still be expanding. The Asia Venture Capital Journal reports that: “Shanghai Joy Network, a media and entertainment investment group owned by [Guo], has committed RMB130 million ($20 million) in Series B funding to Modern Sky Entertainment, a concert and festival event organizer in China,” giving Shanghai Joy 10% of the company. They are understood to be planning a RMB3 billion (US$465 million) fund for acquisition of international music assets.