By Xie Yu
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Hao, a managing director and head of research at Bank of Communications International Holdings Co (BoCom International), has left the brokerage, a spokesperson for the firm told Reuters on Wednesday.
The departure of the Hong Kong-based Hong, one of the most prominent and outspoken China market analysts, comes just days after he was censored on social media platforms following a series of downbeat commentaries.
BoCom International is the securities unit of Bank of Communications Co, one of China’s biggest state-owned banks.
The Chinese social media accounts of Hong were suspended over the weekend after the commentaries and a slump in mainland equities to two-year lows on COVID-19 lockdowns and global political tensions.
“Mr. Hong Hao has resigned due to personal reasons,” said a spokesperson for the brokerage, declining to elaborate.
Hong, who has been one of the most high-profile commentators of China’s economy, markets and policies and made frequent appearances in the international media, did not reply to Reuters calls and messages seeking comments.
Negative comments by analysts and commentators in China are often censored and have come under increased scrutiny as its economy and markets encounter headwinds in a year in which President Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term in the autumn.
Hong had predicted in his social media accounts in March this year that the Shanghai Composite Index might trade below 3,000 points in a worst-case scenario. It fell below that level last week, before recovering to close at 3,047 points on Friday ahead of a long public holiday.
He had also attributed the sell-off in U.S.-listed Chinese companies to China’s crackdown on technology companies rather than U.S. audit rules, and had criticised China’s zero-Covid policies.
Hong’s WeChat account has been suspended since last week. WeChat said it was due to unspecified violations of its rules. His account on Twitter-like microblog Weibo has also vanished since Saturday.
WeChat and Weibo representatives did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment on Wednesday.
For his Twitter account, Hong, who joined BoCom International in 2012, has changed his profile to say “Ex BoCom Int’l”.
Two research notes issued by him in the last two months discussed the risks of a capital flight from China and looming delisting risks of Chinese companies listed in the United States. Online versions of the two reports mailed earlier to media remained blocked as of Wednesday.
(Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jacqueline Wong)