Alibaba founder Jack Ma had appeared in public for the first time since the fall when the public offering of his fintech company Ant Group was cancelled, the Financial Times reports, citing Chinese media.
In a video posted online, the billionaire called for support for Chinese teachers and the education system.
“My colleagues and I studied and thought and became more determined to devote ourselves to promoting education and social welfare,” Ma said.
A spokesman for the Jack Ma Charitable Foundation clarified that the businessman “took part in an online ceremony” on January 20 of the program to support rural teachers in China, which he conducts annually.
Bloomberg also writes that the video featuring Ma was shown live. The video was confirmed to the agency by Ant Group. The Alibaba founder did not mention the conflict with the authorities, the agency said.
After the video was released, Hong Kong-listed Alibaba shares are up 6.3%, the Financial Times said.
Jack Ma last appeared in public on October 24th. On that day, the billionaire criticized the authorities and major market players for the “pawnshop mentality” and opposition to innovation. The authorities’ criticism provoked problems for the financial company of the billionaire Ant Group and Alibaba itself. The Chinese authorities cancelled Ant Group’s IPO at the last moment, which could be the largest in the world. On December 24, it became known about the antitrust investigation against Alibaba.
After the IPO was cancelled, Jack Ma disappeared from the public eye. In November, the businessman did not even appear in the final of Africa’s Business Heroes entrepreneurship competition, where he was supposed to be a judge. Such disappearances are atypical for the billionaire known for his flamboyant performances, including musical numbers at Alibaba events, FT wrote.
However, in a conversation with the publication, Ma’s friends and colleagues rejected the version that he is not shown in public due to personal problems with the law or because he wants to escape from the authorities. They said the billionaire is in China but is not leaving the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of Ma’s friends said that he was “fine” and not in any danger. “He quickly answers [calls and messages] and seems to be in a good mood,” an FT source said.