Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, who has been under China government’s radar since the abrupt suspension of his company Ant’s blockbuster $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) in Shanghai and Hong Kong, has not been seen in public for more than two months, according to some media reports.
Reports suggest that Ma did not even shown up for the final episode of his own talent show ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’ in November and an Alibaba executive had taken his place at the show. Even his pictures were taken off the show’s website and Ma was left out of a promotional video for the show. The talent show gives budding African entrepreneurs a chance to compete for the prize of $1.5 million.
An Alibaba spokesperson told the media that Ma was not a part of the final episode of the show due to a “schedule conflict.” The tech billionaire is one of China’s wealthiest men and his works towards global charity activities and works for the UN in recent years has brought him name and fame in the global arena.
Last month, China’s antitrust authorities had launched a probe into Ma’s e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding and China’s central bank had asked the group to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations.
The Chinese regulators had earlier abruptly suspended Ant’s blockbuster $37 billion initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Ant Group IPO, which was touted as the world’s biggest public offering and was scheduled to be simultaneously listed on Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses, on November 5, was halted in China less than 48 hours before going public.
Ma had later called out the regulators as “stifling innovation” and compared the global banking rules to an “old man’s club.” Comparing Chinese banks to “pawn shops,” the billionaire criticised China for a lack of a solid financial ecosystem.
Since then, Chinese officials have turned the heat on him as the country’s government in December had launched an anti-monopoly investigation into Alibaba after regulators earlier told Ant Group to restructure its operations.