Biz world’s buzz: Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s suspected disappearance

January 4, 2021 - 3:00 PM
Jack Ma
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba. He is seen here at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018. (WEF photo via Wikimedia)

International media reported that Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is suspected missing weeks after his public remarks criticizing state regulators sent his business empire into a crisis.

Ma has not appeared since November in his own reality show “Africa’s Business Heroes” where he starred as a judge of up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

The billionaire, one of the most recognizable personalities in business who has kept a high profile globally, has neither been seen in public for more than two months.

News items on Jack Ma's disappearance
News headlines on Google on Jack Ma’s suspected disappearance on Jan. 4, 2021. (Interaksyon screenshot)

The Chinese government recently launched an investigation into Ma’s business empire after he spoke out against the government’s financial regulators in October.

Ma is known for starting e-commerce giant Alibaba and its financial services arm Ant Group. Chinese authorities suspended the latter’s much-anticipated initial public offering in November last year. It was Chinese President Xi Jinping himself who pulled the IPO plug, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

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On January 1, a Forbes writer speculated that Ma could be the most recent among Chinese billionaires who have gone missing since 2016, some of whom have not reappeared.

“This period coincided with China’s anti-corruption drive and stuck in my head when I heard that Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Financial were being investigated over monopoly and over-leverage concerns,” wrote Forbes’ hedge funds and private equity contributor Mike O’Sullivan.

Ma was the wealthiest individual in China until a bottled water businessman overtook him in the rankings last week following a prolonged crash in share prices of Alibaba Group. He is worth $58 billion as of Jan. 4, 2021.

He made local headlines last year for his partnership and friendship with Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.