founder of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, made his first public appearance since October this Wednesday (20th). After numerous speculations about his whereabouts, the influential Chinese tycoon appeared in a video meeting with a group of teachers. The company’s stock soared with the news. The reason for his disappearance for about three months is not yet known, but some say that Jack Ma had been detained, or that he was hidden amid regulatory repression by the Communist Party of China.
In the video in which he reappears, according to the Reuters agency, the businessman was participating in a ceremony for rural teachers organized by his charitable foundation. In the 50-second video, Ma spoke of a room with gray walls, a large painting, and floral arrangements. It was not clear where the room was. Images dated January 10, with Jack Ma visiting a school in China, were also reproduced.
Alibaba and its charitable foundation confirmed that Ma, a former English teacher, participated in an online ceremony for rural teachers organized by the foundation on Wednesday, according to Reuters. They declined to provide further comments.Speculation about Ma’s whereabouts came after news that he had been replaced in the final episode of a reality show of which he had been a judge and during Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on his extensive business empire.
The billionaire has not appeared in public since October 24, when he attacked the Chinese regulatory system in a speech at an event in Shanghai. This put him on a collision course with authorities and led to the suspension of the $ 37 billion IPO of Ant Group, Alibaba’s financial subsidiary.Ma has an estimated fortune of $ 52.9 billion, according to Bloomberg’s billionaire ranking, and appears on the list as the 25th richest person in the world.
ALIBABA SHARES CLOSE HIGHER
After news of Ma’s reappearance, the shares of Alibaba, a Chinese internet sales giant, closed up 8.5%. “Jack Ma’s reappearance has given investors peace of mind,” said Steven Leung, director of sales at UOB broker Kay Hian in Hong Kong.Despite the remaining 11% below previous levels, the rising shares have already mitigated the losses suffered after the company became the target of an open antitrust investigation in late last year in China.
Chinese authorities suspended the debut of the Ant Group, which would have the biggest IPO in history, on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in November. The group, which owns online payments giant Alipay, has raised concerns among financial regulators about its advances in the insurance, consumer lending, and wealth management sectors.Chinese authorities justified their decision to suspend the Ant Group’s IPO on the company’s transparency obligation, following a tightening of Internet lending regulations. Beijing believes that this new regulation undermines Ant Group’s results and reduces the company’s promise of dividends to its future shareholders. At the time, the group apologized to investors and promised to return the amounts already invested.
The group’s most popular service, Alipay, has been instrumental in Alibaba’s growth and has been used more than credit cards in China, which has been classified by the authorities as “unfair competition”. According to the sources, the tycoon would have angered the Chinese authorities by publicly criticizing state-controlled Chinese banks, comparing them to “pawnshops” that are not innovative.
Although Ma has moved away from corporate positions and earnings conferences, he maintains significant influence over Alibaba and Ant. He also continues to mentor management talent at “Alibaba Partnership”, a group of 35 members of company managers.