Flamboyant and largely outspoken Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has not made a public appearance in more than two months which has set the world of business ablaze with speculations that the Alibaba founder has gone missing. Here are all the details we know so far-
Rumors about his disappearance intensified after Ma failed to appear as the judge in the finale of his own show- “Africa’s Business Heroes”, a reality show which gives bright and upcoming African entrepreneurs a chance to compete and win $1.5 million.
Ma was supposed to be part of the judging panel for the finale but then was replaced by another Alibaba executive. Moreover, his picture too was taken off from the website. According to an Alibaba spokesperson, Ma couldn’t take part in the show “due to a schedule conflict.”
The puzzle around Jack’s disappearance comes at a time when the Chinese authorities have increased scrutiny into Alibaba exponentially after he criticized the state’s regulation and financial system in October 2020.
On October 24, Ma gave a speech where he critiqued China’s financial system and called them “pawnshop financial regulators and state-owned banks.” Ma also blamed the financial system set up in China for curbing business innovation and labeled the global banking regulations as an “old people’s club.” The Chinese billionaire in his usual frank and candid way called for reform by saying, “Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age. We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system.”
According to reports, Ma was advised to not leave China which was followed by an anti-monopoly probe in Alibaba Group and its affiliate company Ant Group on Christmas Eve. This anti-monopoly probe came after China forcefully suspended Ant Group’s $37 billion initial public offering(IPO).
The IPO was reportedly on its course to become the largest IPO in the world before it was pulled down from both Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.