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Jack Ma emerges for first time since crackdown on Ant, Alibaba

Bloomberg | Updated on January 20, 2021 Published on January 20, 2021

China’s most recognisable entrepreneur addressed scores of teachers on an online conference on Wednesday

Alibaba and Ant co-founder Jack Ma has resurfaced after months out of public view, quashing intense speculation about the plight of the billionaire grappling with escalating scrutiny over his internet empire.

China’s most recognisable entrepreneur addressed scores of teachers on an online conference on Wednesday, part of an annual event the billionaire hosts to recognise the achievements of rural educators. His appearance, first reported in a local blog, was confirmed by people familiar with the matter.

Also read: Big investors fled Alibaba after monopoly probe, says Citi

Ma’s re-emergence may help quell persistent rumours about his fate while Beijing pursues investigations into online finance titan Ant Group Co and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The executive had kept out of public view since early November, when Chinese regulators torpedoed Ant’s $35-billion IPO, tightened fintech regulations, then ordered an overhaul of Ant and launched a separate antitrust probe into Alibaba — all in a span of days.

Also read: Tech billionaire Jack Ma out of the public eye for over 2 months: Report

The assault on Ma’s trillion-dollar corporate empire encapsulates a broader campaign to rein in a generation of Chinese tech giants that Beijing now views as wielding too much control over the world’s No. 2 economy. The flurry of actions against his twin companies drove home how Beijing has lost patience with the outsize power of its technology moguls, perceived now as a threat to the political and financial stability President Xi Jinping prizes most.

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Published on January 20, 2021
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