The shares of Landing International Development Ltd. suffered their largest weekly plunge in history after the company said Chairman Yang Zhihui was unreachable. Corporate officials have been attempting to contact Yang since August 23rd but were unsuccessful according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing on Thursday.
Caixin reported Yang is a target of investigators who are examining ties with a state-owned bad-debt manager of China Huarong Asset Management Co. The former chairman, Lai Xiaomin is currently under investigation for alleged corruption.
The news of Yang Zhihui’s disappearance was enough to shock investors just two weeks after the company’s $1.5 billion project in the Philippines was put in jeopardy. Landing decreased in value as much as 16 percent on Friday. The company lost a total of 42 percent of its value this week alone and now holds a market capitalization of nearly $1.2 billion.
Since Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013, he continues to lead an anti-corruption campaign. The campaign nabbed more than 1.5 million Communist Party personnel.
The campaign began reaching into corporate boardrooms as part of an effort to freeze the debt-fueled expansion of China’s largest businesses. High-profile executives are discovering their wealth and connections no longer stand a chance to shield them from probes into corruption and financial crimes.
In December 2016, a unit of Huarong International Financial Holdings loaned $84 million to a holding company of Yang’s debt that was personally guaranteed by him, according to a Hong Kong exchange filing.
The questions circulating around Landing couldn’t have arrived at a worse time. The company’s stock began sinking when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte unexpectedly ordered a review of Landing’s casino lease contract on August 7. That same day was when the company started working on the project. Duterte claimed the contract was “flawed.” Landing declined to comment on the subject, while a China Huarong representative declined requests for comments.
Landing opened Jeju Shinwa World in Korea, its only casino resort, earlier this year and Yang is the company’s biggest shareholder, who holds a 50.5 percent stake. Since its debut on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in April at $1.6 billion, Landing has plummeted by nearly 74 percent.
This is not the first time a Chinese tycoon went missing after a contentious expansion. Financier Xiao Jianhua, who once led the Tomorrow Holding Co. empire, was taken away by Chinese authorities in early 2017 according to the South China Morning Post. The newspaper cited mainland sources as saying that Xiao was assisting with investigations into matters that regarded “bribery and stock market manipulation.”