Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has reportedly gone missing after delivering a controversial speech. The high-profile businessman has not made a public appearance in more than two months.
Ma’s business empire, Ant Group, has been under scrutiny by Beijing ever since Ma delivered a controversial speech in Shanghai on 24 October that criticised China’s regulation system for stifling innovation and likened global banking rules to an “old people’s club”.
Ma was to appear as a judge in the final episode of his own talent show — Africa’s Business Heroes — but, surprisingly, he did not turn up. The show provides African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of $1.5 million prize money.
It was reported in December that China had laid out a ‘rectification plan’ for Jack Ma’s fintech venture Ant group, days after the country’s top market watchdog began an investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by e-commerce giant Alibaba.
In November, the Alibaba founder suffered a major setback as Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges suspended dual listing of the shares of his world’s biggest initial public offer of USD 39.7 billion of the group’s subsidiary – the Ant group, 48 hours before the highly-anticipated trading was due to start.
A record 19.05 trillion yuan (USD 2.85 trillion) of bids were received from retail investors for Ant’s shares on Shanghai’s Star Market, exceeding the supply of shares by 870 times.
In Hong Kong, 1.55 million retail investors, or about one-fifth of the city’s population, poured in HKD 1.3 trillion (USD 167.7 billion) for the shares when the book closed, overbidding by 389 times.
China’s iconic businessman was summoned along with his senior executives by Chinese regulators, which was seen as a firm sign by the officials of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to contain his new record venture.