Reports of the Alibaba founder Jack Ma is making headlines as the Chinese billionaire is reported to have not made any public appearance in the last two months.
Jack Ma even failed to appear as a judge in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes. The billionaire was then replaced by an Alibaba executive.
The company spokesperson said his absence on the show was due to his hectic schedule. However, the removal of Ma’s picture from the event's website raised concerns about his whereabouts.
What came as blow for business magnate Jack Ma was when China’s Central Bank asking online financial giant Ant Group to shake up its lending along with other consumer finance operations. The tightening grip by the Chinese authorities over his business empire came in response to his criticism against China’s regulation system last October.
The mystery about the fate of Jack Ma deepens because Ma, who is considered to be quite a media-savvy public figure has not made any public appearance since the suspension of ANT’s IPO.
FPJ had earlier reported that, the series of edicts represent a serious threat to the expansion of Ma's online finance empire, which has grown rapidly from a PayPal-like operation into a full suite of services over the past 17 years. Before regulators intervened, Ant was poised for a public listing that would have valued it at more than $300 billion, with existing backers including Carlyle Group Inc. and Silver Lake Management LLC.
According to the reports, the entire episode is further interesting given that in the past, there have been a few billionaires in China who suddenly disappeared.
Number of billionaires went missing during China’s anti-corruption drive between 2016 and 2017. Some reappeared, saying that they were ‘helping the authorities,’ others never returned. The most famous businessman being Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua, owner of Tomorrow Holding, who was taken from his hotel room in Hong Kong by alleged Chinese security officers during the Chinese New Year celebrations of 2017.
If reports are to be believed, he is being held by authorities and will be brought to trial over the crimes of manipulating the stock market and offering bribes.