The Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been noticeably absent from public life.
Yahoo Finance reported on Sunday that Ma hadn’t been seen publicly in more than two months. Ma missed an appearance in November on a TV talent show he founded. Another Alibaba executive replaced Ma, and the show’s website removed Ma’s picture, The Telegraph reported.
CNBC’s David Faber reported Tuesday morning Ma is being “less visible, purposefully,” but hasn’t gone missing.
Chinese regulators recently opened an antitrust investigation into Alibaba, Ma’s e-commerce giant. Ant Group, Ma’s financial-services company, has drawn the ire of Chinese banks that accused it of stealing business from them. The country introduced regulations in November that halted Ant Group’s initial public offering.
While Ma may be trying to stay out of the public eye during the investigation, his absence is reminiscent of other Chinese businessmen who disappeared after sparring with regulators.
Ren Zhiqiang, a retired real-estate tycoon, fell off the radar in March after accusing the Communist Party of mishandling the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported. Beijing later sentenced Ren, 69, to 18 years in prison.
Xiao Jianhua, an asset manager, was abducted from a hotel in Hong Kong in January 2017, Reuters reported. Xiao disappeared into Chinese custody, and the country later seized parts of his company, Tomorrow Group, The Times reported in July. Regulators had accused Xiao and other tycoons of taking would-be investors away from Chinese stock markets, The Guardian said.