Reports speculating on Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s whereabouts were appeased after CNBC anchor finance journalist David Farber reported on Tuesday (Jan 5) that the Chinese billionaire was not missing, as confirmed by a person familiar with the matter.
Media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance reported earlier this week that Ma had not made any public appearance since Oct 24, 2020, where he spoke at a Shanghai forum. Ma’s speech included critical comments on China’s financial regulations.
He had said that the country’s regulatory system was hindering innovation and needed reforms that push growth, reported The Japan Times. “There are no systemic financial risks in China because there’s no system in China,” Ma was quoted as saying.
His comments escalated quickly, leading to a thorough review of fintech firm Ant Group, another business founded by Ma.
Two days before its listing in Nov 2020, the Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO. On the same day, Ant Group also pulled the plug on its Hong Kong listing willingly.
Regulators in China had also summoned and interviewed Ma and two Ant Group executives, said the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
Ma was scheduled to make a public appearance in the November finale of “Africa’s Business Heroes,” a television show Ma created to give promising African entrepreneurs a chance to win $1.5 million as capital for a business.
Faber said on CNBC that Ma “may not have shown up, but he’s not missing. He hasn’t been captured, he hasn’t been taken, this is not a Chairman Wu situation,” referencing the Anbang Insurance chairman sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2018.
According to Faber, Ma is “very likely” to be in Hangzhou, the location of Alibaba’s headquarters.
After news confirming his probable whereabouts, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) experienced a leap in traded shares on Tuesday, reported thestreet.com. Alibaba’s U.S.-listed shares rose 5.5 per cent over the Tuesday session and closed at $240.40 each.
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