Jack Ma, the popular Chinese tech billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) is reportedly just avoiding public appearances and is not missing, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
This week, a lot of people on social media and the press have been wondering and speculating about the whereabouts of Mr. Ma, who suddenly disappeared from public view following a crackdown on his companies by the Chinese government.
This week, several media outlets including the USA Herald reported that the Alibaba co-founder hasn’t been seen in public since October when he delivered a speech during a financial forum in Shanghai.
During his speech, Mr. Ma criticized the”pawnshop mentality” of China’s state-owned banks. He compared the country’s global financial regulators to the “old people’s club,” which he believes is hindering innovation.
Chinese regulators’ crackdown on companies controlled by Jack Ma
Following his criticisms, China’s securities regulator suspended the planned initial public offering (IPO) of Ant Group formerly known as Ant Financial in the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Ant is an affiliate of Alibaba, and it was set to raise $37 billion in a public offering. It was expected to be the world’s biggest IPO and could have valued the Chinese tech billionaire’s financial company at $300 billion.
In November, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said the suspension was the result of its interview with Mr. Ma and two Ant Group executives.
It had been reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping personally ordered the country’s securities regulator to pull the plug on Ant Group’s IPO.
In addition to the Ant Group IPO suspension, the Chinese regulators also launched an antitrust investigation against Alibaba.
The crackdown harmed Mr. Ma and the investors of his companies. By the end of December 2020, in just two months, his fortuned dropped by $12 billion to $50.9 billion from around $62 billion, according to data from Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index.
Alibaba’s stock declined from its trading price of $317.14 per share on October 27 to $232.73 each on December 31, down by 26%.
The news on Wednesday that Mr. Ma is not missing and just avoiding the public limelight had a positive impact on Alibaba. The company’s stock rebounded by more than 5% to $240.47 per share.
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