HONG KONG, Oct 12 (Businesshala) – Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group (9988.HK), has been largely out of public view since a regulatory clampdown began on his business empire late last year, currently in Hong Kong. and recently met with business associates, two sources told Businesshala.
The Chinese billionaire has been keeping a low profile since delivering a speech in Shanghai last October criticizing China’s financial regulators. This triggered a chain of events that resulted in the shelving of their Ant Group’s mega IPO.
While Ma made a limited number of public appearances in mainland China after that as speculation about his whereabouts intensified, one of the sources said the visit marked his first visit to the Asian financial center since last October. .
Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of its regular business hours. Ma’s comments usually come through the company.
declined to identify the sources due to lack of confidentiality.
Ma, once China’s most famous and outspoken entrepreneur, met at least “a few” business associates over food last week, the people said.
Ma, who is mostly based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou where his business empire is headquartered, also owns at least one luxury home in the former British colony, with some of his companies also operating offshore business.
Apart from New York, Alibaba is also listed in Hong Kong.
The former English teacher disappeared from public view for three months before being revealed in January, speaking to a group of teachers by video. This quelled concerns about his unusual absence from the limelight, and led to a surge in Alibaba shares.
Company sources said that in May, Ma made a rare visit to Alibaba’s Hangzhou campus during the firm’s annual “Ali Day” staff and family event.
On September 1, photographs of Ma visiting several agricultural greenhouses in eastern Zhejiang province, home of both Alibaba and its fintech partner Ant, went viral on Chinese social media.
The next day, Alibaba said it would invest 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of “common prosperity”, becoming the latest corporate giant to lend support to a wealth-sharing initiative run by President Xi Jinping.
Alibaba and its tech rivals have been the target of widespread regulatory action on issues ranging from monopolistic behavior to consumer rights. The e-commerce giant was fined a record $2.75 billion in April for violating monopoly.
Earlier this year, regulators also imposed a sweeping restructuring on Ant, which would have had a $37 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong and the world’s largest in Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style Star Market.
($1 = 7.7812 Hong Kong Dollar)