Chinese billionaire Jack Ma hasn’t been seen in more than two months after he suggested the communist nation reform its current financial system.
Yahoo Finance reported Monday that Ma, the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, was “suspected to be missing” after he hadn’t been seen since late October.
“Over the past few days, reports have emerged that the business magnate has neither been spotted in public nor has he made a social media post since late October. Multiple media outlets have also reported that he was abruptly replaced by Alibaba co-founder and executive Lucy Peng as a judge on the final episode of Africa’s Business Heroes, the talent show Ma founded through his namesake philanthropic foundation,” Yahoo reported.
On October 12, Ma had said he was looking forward to the finale, just weeks before he was abruptly replaced before the November filming of the episode. A spokesperson for Alibaba told CNN Business that Ma missed the filming “due to scheduling conflict.”
Yahoo reported that speculation regarding Ma’s absence focused on his October 24 speech at Bund Summit in Shanghai, where he suggested reforming China’s banking system.
“Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age,” Ma reportedly said at the summit. “We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system.”
“What we need is to build a healthy financial system, not systematic financial risks,” Ma also said. “To innovate without risks is to kill innovation. There’s no innovation without risks in the world.”
Just days later, CNN reported, Ma and other executives for Alibaba affiliate Ant Group were called for “regulatory interviews” by Chinese regulators. A week after that speech, the stock market listing for Ant Group was suddenly blocked by Chinese regulators, Yahoo reported.
“The Shanghai Stock Exchange noted that the $37 billion offering — widely considered at the time to be the world’s biggest IPO — did not meet listing qualifications or disclosure requirements as China looks to overhaul rules and regulations related to the fintech industry,” the outlet reported.
On Tuesday, CNBC reported that “a person familiar with the matter” told the outlet that Ma is not missing, but rather “lying low for the time being.”
“After reports speculating about Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s whereabouts, CNBC’s David Faber reported Tuesday that the billionaire is not missing, according to a person familiar with the matter. Instead, Ma has been lying low for the time being, Faber reported,” the outlet reported.
CNN reported that in addition to the Ant Group’s IPO getting blocked, China has been looking into Alibaba as part of an antitrust probe. The Wall Street Journal reported just last week that the communist nation was trying to wrestle more control of Ma’s businesses.
CNN also reported that public opinion about Ma has deteriorated in China, where capitalism has been taught as bad for humanity.