Beijing (China), March 27 (ANI): Chinese magnate Jack Ma has returned to mainland China after spending roughly a year overseas, according to people familiar with the matter, reported Wall Street Journal.
Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s billion co-founder, travels have drawn a great deal of attention as China attempts to win back the trust of entrepreneurs after years of regulatory restrictions and Covid-19 epidemic measures that severely damaged the nation's private enterprises. Some in the business world saw the tech titan's prolonged absence as proof that the tech industry in China was still plagued by uncertainty.
Ma, who spent the majority of the previous year in Japan, recently made a trip back to China, according to the sources quoted by Wall Street Journal. He recently visited Singapore and Australia and spent the most recent Lunar New Year in Hong Kong.
Requests for comments from Alibaba and the Jack Ma Foundation were not immediately met with a response.
At his first news conference in his new role earlier this month, China's new premier spent a significant amount of time assuring entrepreneurs that Beijing supports the private sector and that its "commitment in this area is unequivocal and constant."The South China Morning Post, which belongs to Alibaba, first announced Ma's return to China, reported Wall Street Journal.
Ma has maintained a low profile after Ant Group Co. cancelled initial public offerings in Hong Kong and Shanghai that were expected to raise more than USD 34 billion in November 2020.
The cancellations happened as a result of authorities' anger over Ma's remarks at a financial forum. Authorities then opened an investigation against Alibaba for allegedly engaging in anticompetitive activities on its e-commerce platform, and the company was ultimately slammed with a record-breaking USD 2.8 billion fine.
Soon after, China began a broad regulatory crackdown on other private companies, increasing regulations on everything from video games and education to real estate.
Ma relinquished leadership of Ant Group in January after the company's shareholders approved a restructuring of business. The crackdown on the fintech operations of more than a dozen internet companies was "basically" over, according to the party chief at China's central bank, who made the statement on the same day.
Ma has mostly disappeared from public view since giving a speech that criticised regulators on the eve of the cancelled Ant listing in 2020.
Regulators had pulled the plug on November 3, 2020, on the initial public offering of Ant Group, the internet finance giant, which had been all but ready to press "Go" on its USD 34-billion stock debut in Shanghai and Hong Kong, the New York Times had reported.
NYT had reported that the initial public offering would have brought in more cash than did Saudi Aramco, the state-run oil giant when it went public last year.
And Ant would have raised the money on the opposite side of the planet from New York, which has long been the favoured listing destination for Chinese tech groups.
Ant Group's controller Jack Ma, executive chairman Eric Jing and CEO Simon Hu were summoned and interviewed by regulators in China, according to a statement from the China Securities Regulatory Commission. (ANI)