Speculation has swirled around Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s whereabouts after reports surfaced that Ma has not made a public appearance in more than two months.
The billionaire also failed to appear in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes.
As per a UK Telegraph report, Ma was supposed to be part of the judging panel on the show but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November final.
In fact, his picture was also taken off the website. For the uninitiated, the talent show gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of US $1.5 million.
According to Financial Times, an Alibaba spokesperson said Ma was unable to take part in the judging panel “due to a schedule conflict.”
The 56-year-old billionaire hasn’t been seen publicly after officials hit back at him following an October speech in which he complained at a business conference that China’s regulators and state-run banks are hampering opportunities.
“Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age. We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system,” Ma said in the speech.
Last month, it was reported that Ma’s company Alibaba is being investigated by regulators on charges of monopolistic practices.
China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has started an investigation on Alibaba Group for alleged monopoly conduct including implementing an exclusive dealing agreement.
In November last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that officials in Beijing reprimanded Ma and suspended the $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) of his Ant Group on the direct order of President Jinping.
Ma was also advised to remain in China before launching an anti-monopoly investigation into his Alibaba Group Holding on Christmas Eve, according to Bloomberg.
Jack Ma’s worth has slipped to third in China’s rich list.
Chief executive and founder of budget e-commerce marketplace Pinduoduo Colin Huang has overtaken Ma of Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index :
- Huang now has a current net worth of US $63.1 billion
- Pony Ma’s net worth is $56.4 billion
3.Jack Ma trails at third position with a net worth of $50.6 billion.