Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Suspected Missing
Speculation has arisen over the whereabouts of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s after reports emerged that he has not made a public appearance in more than two months.
The Alibaba founder also failed to appear as scheduled in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, which gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of USD1.5 million.
Ma was supposed to be part of the judging, but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November final. An Alibaba spokesperson said Ma was unable to take part on the judging panel “due to a schedule conflict”.
Ma now finds himself up against a Communist leadership seemingly intent on hacking back his empire and issuing a lesson that no one is bigger than the party.
Ma, the most recognisable face in Asian business with a fortune estimated at around $58 billion, has already faced the ignominy of having the world’s biggest-ever IPO spiked by Chinese regulators days before its launch.
The November share sale was set to see his wealth bulge to more than $70 billion in a record-breaking listing of the group’s Ant Group financial arm in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
But Chinese regulators abruptly pulled the deal, over what initially appeared to be concerns about the company’s reach into the finances of hundreds of millions of Chinese people. It was a brutal public rebuke to Ma, who was then called in for dressing down by regulators and has since evaporated from the spotlight he normally so ably commands.
Now China’s poster boy for enterprise finds himself again caught in the glare of the Communist-run state, with the announcement of an anti-monopoly probe into Alibaba, the tech giant he founded, and the summoning of Ant Group by regulators.