In a situation that’s becoming more and more familiar, two Chinese executives have been reported missing, this time from Hong Kong-based Imagi Animation Studios. This follows news earlier this month of the disappearance of Fosun founder Guo Guangchang — who reportedly reappeared at a company meeting a week after the initial word of his unknown whereabouts. That Shanghai-based company is a principal backer of Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 which, as Deadline reported exclusively, is understood not to have been affected by the curious events which resulted in the temporary suspension of Fosun trading. It was later said that Guo was assisting an inquiry into his personal affairs.
The situation with Imagi is a bit more blurry. The company produced 2007’s TMNT ($96M worldwide box office cume) and its other credits include Astro Boy and Highlander: The Search For Vengeance. In a Thursday filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the board of directors of Imagi said it “would like to inform shareholders of the Company that the Company recently has not been able to reach Mr. Shan Jiuliang the Company’s chairman and an executive Director.” He last attended a Board meeting in October, but did not turn up at a December 11 meeting “and has not responded to the Company’s various requests.”
Also evidently missing is Wen Di, a non-executive Director who announced his resignation by letter on October 27, but has not been heard from since November 8.
Conventional wisdom holds that when executives go off the grid, it’s because they are involved in police investigations. One exec who deals regularly with China says when this happens it’s because people are “being thoroughly questioned and under suspicion of practices” President Xi Jinping and his “powerful alliance” are against.
The issue at hand would appear to have more to do with Fanya Metal Exchange, which owns Imagi. Shan is the founder of the troubled state-backed trading platform which is involved in a dispute with investors who say they have been cheated in a Ponzi scheme and are seeking the return of 43B yuan ($6.6B), Caixin online reports. Shan was “captured” by angry investors in August, according to the FT, as they attempted to force authorities to investigate why their funds have been frozen. He was handed over to police and later released without charge. The company ceased operations in April, but there has been no official announcement of a closure, Caixin said.
Imagi for its part has issued no press statments this year, per its website, and last issued a financial report for the six months ended June 30. It did not report any revenue but said its liquidity and financial position “remained healthy and strong.” On Thursday, it appointed a new Company Secretary, but said, “Shareholders and potential investors of the Company should exercise caution when dealing in the securities of the Company.”