Co-Founder of Alibaba, the ‘Chinese Amazon’, billionaire Jack Ma has not been seen in over two months. His disappearance comes after he suggested the communist nation should reform its financial system.
“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,” according to a Yahoo report.
On October 12, Ma said he was excited for the finale of the show. This was just weeks before he was suddenly replaced before filming the finale. A spokesperson for Alibaba told CNN Business that Ma missed the filming “due to scheduling conflict.”
Speculation about 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 said. “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 continued. “To innovate without risks is to kill innovation. There’s no innovation without risks in the world.”
Days after the speech, Ma, along with other executives for Alibaba affiliate Ant Group, were called for “regulatory interviews” by Chinese regulators. A week after that speech, Chinese regulators blocked the stock market listing for Ant Group.
“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,” according to a report.
“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.