Following months of speculation about his plight, Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has resurfaced. China's most recognizable entrepreneur was seen addressing scores of teachers on an online conference Wednesday, a report with Bloomberg stated. The program was a part of an annual event that the billionaire hosts to recognize the achievements of rural educators. His appearance, first reported in a local blog, was confirmed by people familiar with the matter.
Jack Ma's sudden disappearance in November had sparked a chain of controversies, with new reports emerging everyday. It began when Ma had irked regulators with the speech at a business conference in Shanghai attended by some of the regulators he was criticizing. Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan also was in the audience.
In his speech, Ma complained regulators had an antique “pawnshop mentality” and were hampering innovation, according to Chinese media. He appealed to them to support unconventional approaches to make it easier for entrepreneurs and young people to borrow.
Following his speech, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba suffered a major setback after Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges suspended dual listing of the shares of his world's biggest initial public offer of USD 39.7 billion of the group's subsidiary - the Ant Group, 48 hours before the highly-anticipated trading was due to start.
Earlier this year, some reports had even claimed Jack Ma was 'laying low' for the time being.
Jack Ma is very likely in Hangzhou, which is home to the Alibaba headquarters, CNBC anchor David Faber had said.
Ma’s re-emergence may help quell persistent rumors about his fate while Beijing pursues investigations into online finance titan Ant Group Co. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Fifty-six-year-old Jack Ma had stepped down as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019 but is part of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of its board of directors. He is one of the biggest shareholders.