In a new video clip published online on Jan. 20, Ma was allegedly shown visiting a school rebuilt by his foundation — a glimpse that was enough to spur Alibaba’s Hong Kong-traded shares to rise by almost 9%.
According to Cointelegraph, a representative for the charitable Jack Ma Foundation confirmed to reporters that Ma had “participated in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher initiative event on January 20.” In the video, Ma is said to have pledged his commitment to working with his colleagues to improve education and public welfare.
Investors’ momentary reassurance follows months of inscrutable actions from the Chinese state to reassert control over one of the country’s wealthiest figures, whose conglomerate provides over 70% of China’s citizens with fintech services through AliPay.
In recent months, Ant Group has come under fire for its reportedly monopolistic overreach and fallen prey to the Chinese Communist Party politburo’s intent to prevent a “disorderly expansion of capital” in the national economy. The conglomerate’s present difficulties date back to late October, the last time Ma was seen in public, when he delivered a speech that was sharply critical of both regulators and China’s banking sector.
Ma’s ill-received speech sparked the Chinese authorities to step up their moves to rein in the corporate giant, pulling the plug on its plans to go public and then launching an antitrust probe into Alibaba — while keeping media coverage of the investigation tightly under control. There have been unverified suggestions that Chinese President Xi Jinping had himself been behind the decision to halt Ant’s initial public offering.
Uncertainty as to the eventual outcome of ongoing regulatory and state intervention into Ma’s business persists, notwithstanding the entrepreneur’s brief resurfacing earlier today.
Meanwhile, Antitrust regulators have been stepping up their efforts to reassert control over tech behemoths like Facebook in the United States.