Alibaba founder Jack Ma has not been seen in public in over two months fueling speculation about his whereabouts, many western media outlets are reporting today.
The Chinese billionaire was supposed to appear as a judge in the final episode of his own talent TV show, Africa’s Business Heroes, a show that is part of his initiative to give African entrepreneurs an opportunity to build and grow their businesses. The Financial Times first spotted his absence from the still unaired final episode after he looked forward to participating in it in early October.
“I continue to be amazed by the passion, resilience, and vision of Africa’s entrepreneurs, and I look forward to meeting these ten extraordinary businesswomen and businessmen at the finale. I am excited to learn more about how they are driving positive change and progress across the continent.”Jack Ma, Founder of the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Group
But now a spokesperson for Alibaba told the Financial Times, “Due to a schedule conflict Mr. Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa’s Business Heroes earlier this year .”
His disappearance from public life coincides with a candid speech he gave in Shanghai on October 24, criticizing China’s regulatory system. Shortly after, the Chinese government effectively stopped the listing of Ant Group’s IPO, which is an affiliate of the Alibaba Group.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission had summoned Ant Group Executives, including Jack Ma, who is the company’s controlling shareholder to a meeting, which led to the halt of the IPO.
“Views regarding the health and stability of the financial sector were exchanged [at the meeting],” Ant said in a statement. “Ant Group is committed to implementing the meeting opinions in depth and continuing our course based on the principles of stable innovation; embrace of regulation; service to the economy; and win-win cooperation.”
Even Jack Ma’s Twitter account has been pretty quiet since October as this was the last tweet from 2020, two weeks prior to his meeting with Chinese regulators.
All of this seems too coincidental for many Twitter users who have been tweeting all day with #JackMa hashtag wondering what has happened to him. Even investors are concerned as Alibaba Group’s stock is down 3 percent at midday on Monday on the questions about his possible whereabouts.
Update: CNBC’s David Faber reports on Tuesday, January 5 that Jack Ma is laying low, citing a person familiar with the matter but provided no further details about his whereabouts.
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