AsiaJack Ma’s first public appearance in months causes surge in Alibaba shares

Jack Ma’s first public appearance in months causes surge in Alibaba shares

The billionaire took part in an online awards ceremony on Wednesday for his philanthropic foundation's Rural Teacher Initiative

Singapore — Alibaba billionaire co-founder Jack Ma appeared in public for the first time in months on Wednesday morning (Jan 20), causing a surge in the price of its shares.

His tech empire has been under close scrutiny by Chinese regulators of late.

Mr Ma was seen in a video released by Chinese state media talking to teachers in rural areas as part of a philanthropic event.

According to the Jack Ma Foundation, the billionaire took part in an online awards ceremony for a programme the foundation created called the Rural Teacher Initiative, according to CNN.

A former English teacher, education has been one of the priorities of Mr Ma’s foundation. The video was published online by Tianmu News, which is under the official newspaper of the government of Zhejiang province.

Alibaba is based in Hangzhou, which is the capital of the province.

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Mr Ma was last seen in public in late October last year.

This was one week before the Ant Group, the financial affiliate of Alibaba, was set to list on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

Chinese regulators blocked the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the Ant Group at the eleventh hour.

Following this, Mr Ma’s companies began to be targeted by Beijing as a part of a bigger crackdown on tech companies.

The billionaire’s latest public appearance sent Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares surging by over 9 per cent after the video was posted online.

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This helped mitigate some of the losses the Ant Group suffered since its IPO was blocked.

Mr Ma can be seen telling teachers: “We’ll meet again after the epidemic is over.” Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the in-person ceremony had been cancelled.

Tianmu News said his message to the teachers was filmed on Wednesday morning.

The disappearance of Mr Ma from public events in the last few months was widely talked about, especially after he had been critical of Beijing’s regulations, which occurred right before the IPO was blocked. /TISG

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