Before his return, Alibaba founder Jack Ma had been abroad for over a year. The billionaire’s relationship with Chinese authorities is strained. Now, he has reappeared in China for the first time. The Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, which he owns, reported that Ma visited a school in the eastern Chinese metropolis of Hangzhou on Monday.
The internet conglomerate Alibaba will split its business into six separate units. Regulators still intend to reduce the monopolistic nature of tech giants and limit their power, even as they urge private companies to do their part to create jobs and boost a flagging economy.
Earlier, he had seen friends in Hong Kong and the Art Basel art fair held there over the weekend. According to the report, Ma had been abroad for over a year before returning to China.
According to press reports, the 58-year-old multi-billionaire lived in Japan for a more extended period last year. However, he was also seen in Thailand and several times in Europe.
The disgraced founder of online giant Alibaba and fintech firm Ant Group had rarely been seen publicly since the fall of 2020. At the time, Chinese regulators cracked down on Ant Group’s IPO.
The company is behind the Chinese mobile payment system Alipay, which has more than a billion users. The planned IPO was to be the largest in the world at $35 billion (currently about 33 billion euros) and failed at the last minute because of regulators.
Alibaba’s landmark restructuring has sent its shares soaring as investors bet on the return of regulatory support than two years of a brutal crackdown. “It appears that Alibaba’s break-up has been orchestrated by Beijing,” said Brock Silvers, chief investment officer for Kaiyuan Capital. According to him, Jack Ma’s sudden reappearance seems like a planned media event intended to boost market sentiment at a critical moment.”