Jack Ma: Billionaire Alibaba founder who disappeared amid China crackdown re-emerges in Hong Kong

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Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who has kept a low profile following China’s crackdown on his businesses, was reportedly spotted in Hong Kong recently.

The co-founder of Alibaba group is currently staying in Hong Kong, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed sources. Ma met at least “a few” business associates over meals last week, the sources said.

One such report also appeared in Hong Kong’s The Standard earlier this month. It had said that Ma was in the city on 1 October.

The billionaire owns at least one luxury property in the former British colony where several of his business operations take place. However, this trip to Hong Kong is his first since October last year, according to one of the two sources quoted by the news agency.

The business tycoon has been largely keeping a low profile and has made very few appearances in mainland China since Beijing came down heavily on his empire after he criticised China’s regulatory policies.

Last October, Ma called for reforms in the Chinese financial system in front of a Shanghai audience that included some high-profile officials from the organisations he was criticising.

Since then, his company has been subject to several inquiries and clampdowns from Beijing, including a massive $2.75 bn (£2.1bn) fine for monopoly violations in April.

In November last year, a mega Initial Public Offering (IPO) by Ma’s Ant Group was also suspended by Chinese authorities just days before its trading debut. Later on, the company also shelved a share buyback programme.

Ma since then has gone under the radar while trying to mend his relationship with authorities in Beijing. He has so far just been spotted at three appearances — one in January addressing a group of teachers, another on the company’s annual Ali Day in May and the latest in September visiting several agricultural greenhouses in the eastern Zhejiang province, where his company is based.

Alibaba on the other hand has made several investments to make the relationship with China better, including putting money into patriotic films and backing president Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” initiative to narrow the wealth gap.

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