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BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,4TH JAN,2021– Chinese business magnate and billionaire Jack Ma has reportedly not made any public appearance in slightly over two months, and queries are now starting to rise over his possible whereabouts.
According to international media, Jack Ma’s troubles began when he criticized the Chinese government’s regulation system for allegedly stifling innovation during a controversial speech in Shanghai on October 24, 2020.
“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,” said the Alibaba founder, likening global banking rules to an “old people’s club”.
Barely a week after the speech, Jack Ma was reportedly summoned and given a dressing down by regulators before his business empire Ant Group was placed under scrutiny and its IPO suspended.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange said Ant Group’s IPO (valued at a record-high US $37 billion), was suspended over “significant issues such as the changes in financial technology regulatory environment”. This despite having given it the green light initially.
Yahoo! Finance now says since then, the billionaire has – among others – “failed to appear as scheduled in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, which gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of US $1.5 million.”
The UK’s Telegraph reported that Jack Ma, who was supposed to be part of the judging panel, was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the show’s November finale and his picture taken also off the website.
A spokesperson from Alibaba later told the Financial Times that Jack Ma missed the show “due to a schedule conflict.”
The billionaire, who has been vocal on social media platform Twitter ever since joining in March last year, also – curiously – last tweeted on October 10, 2020.