Billionaire Jack Ma Makes His First Public Appearance In Months, Says “We’ll Meet Again After The Epidemic Is Over”

January 20, 2021
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Billionaire co-founder of Alibaba (BABA), Jack Ma, on Wednesday, made his first public appearance in months as his tech empire continues to face scrutiny from Chinese regulators.

In a video published by Chinese state media, Tianmu News, Ma was shown speaking to teachers in rural China as part of a philanthropic event.

He had not made a public appearance or social media post since late October, just over a week before Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Group was scheduled to list on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

The IPO was blocked at the last minute by Chinese regulators, and his companies have since been targeted as part of an escalating crackdown on tech by Beijing.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares surged more than 9% on Wednesday after the video was published. The gains put the stock on pace for its best day since last July, helping to erase some of the losses that have piled up since Ant Group’s IPO was pulled. The stock also powered a broader rally in Chinese tech stocks that trade in Hong Kong.

In the video, Ma said, “We’ll meet again after the epidemic is over.” It also showed footage of Ma that it said was taken during a visit to an elementary school in Hangzhou earlier this month.

Ma’s whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks. As Ant Group was preparing for the world’s largest initial public offering last fall, Ma accused authorities of stifling innovation and blasted the country’s banks for having a “pawn shop” mentality. Within days, regulators summoned Ma and Ant executives to a meeting and then shelved the IPO altogether.

The event in Shanghai where Ma made those remarks was the last time he was seen in public before Wednesday.

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