China bars billionaire actress Zhao Wei from stock trading for 5 years

BEIJING - Billionaire Chinese actress Zhao Wei and her husband have been barred from trading in the mainland stock market for five years and fined by the securities regulator, which cited their disclosure irregularities relating to a takeover bid of a firm.

Zhao and her husband Huang Youlong, through a company they controlled - Tibet Longwei Culture Media Co - made a failed attempt to buy 29.1 per cent of Zhejiang Wanjia Co in late 2016.

Zhejiang Wanjia was later taken over by another investor and renamed Zhejiang Sunriver Culture Co.

But Tibet Longwei's bid drew scrutiny of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) regarding information disclosure and takeover-financing ability. The regulator stated that the bid made misleading statements and major omissions in disclosures, according to a filing by Zhejiang Sunriver to the Shanghai stock exchange.

The bidder's actions "severely impacted market order, hurt medium and small investors' confidence in the market, and undermined fairness, justice and openness of the market," the regulator said, according to the filing.

Zhao, Huang and Tibet Longwei could not be contacted for comment by phone. CSRC also could not be reached immediately for comment.

Zhejiang Sunriver said in an emailed statement to Reuters it will "disclose information in a timely manner in accordance with law for any follow-up".

The CSRC fined Zhao and Huang 300,000 yuan (S$61.460) each, while Tibet Longwei Culture Media Co received a 600,000 yuan penalty.

Zhao and Huang built up an estimated 7 billion yuan in wealth through their investments, including early stakes in Alibaba Pictures Group, and were ranked 567 in the 2017 list of China's richest compiled by the Hurun Report.

Zhao, 41, came into national prominence for starring in the costume TV drama "My Fair Princess", produced jointly between Taiwan and mainland China in 1998. She was also part of the popular "Shaolin Football" and "Red Cliff" movies.