Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba, made his own first public appearance since October, causing nearly three months of intense speculation about its possible residence to an end.
In a new video clip published online Jan. 20, Ma reportedly visited a school rebuilt by his foundation – a glimpse enough to make Alibaba’s Hong Kong-traded shares soar by nearly 9%.
The temporary reassurance of investors follows months of inscrutable actions by the Chinese state to take control of one of the country’s wealthiest figures, whose conglomerate more than 70% of Chinese citizens with fintech services through AliPay.
A representative from the Jack Ma Foundation charity confirmed to reporters that Ma “attended the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher initiative event on January 20”. In the video, Ma is said to have pledged to improve education and public welfare together with his colleagues.
Ant Group has come under fire over these months for its alleged monopolistic reach and has fallen prey to the Chinese Communist Party’s politburo intention to prevent “disorderly capital expansion” in the national economy. The conglomerate’s current problems date back to the end of October, the last time Ma was seen in public when he speech that was harsh criticism of both regulators and the Chinese banking sector.
The speech was delivered on the eve of the planned Ant Group IPO, which is expected to attract $ 37 billion with an enterprise valuation of over $ 300 billion.
Ma’s poorly received speech prompted Chinese authorities to step up their steps to rein in the corporate giant, pull the plug about his plans to go public and then one antitrust probe in Alibaba – while media attention for the investigation remained tight under control. There have been unverified suggestions that Chinese President Xi Jinping himself had been behind the decision to stop Ant’s IPO.
Uncertainty about the ultimate outcome of ongoing regulation and government intervention in Ma’s business persists, despite the entrepreneur’s brief return earlier in the day.
Antitrust regulators have now been step up their efforts to Restore control of tech giants like Facebook in the United States, where the eruption of tech empires has similarly sparked growing concern at the federal level.