BANGKOK, Thailand – Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma was spotted socializing in Bangkok this week, having stayed out of the public eye since regulators in China launched a clampdown on his business empire in late 2021, social media posts and local media reports showed.
Little has been heard from the once outspoken Chinese billionaire since he criticized China’s financial regulators in a speech in Shanghai in 2020, triggering a chain of events that resulted in the shelving of his Ant Group’s mega IPO.
The latest sighting of Ma came on the Instagram account of Michelin-starred chef Supinya “Jay Fai” Junsuta, who posted on Friday, January 6, a picture of himself with Ma along with the message “incredibly humble, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai’s.”
Several local media also reported that Ma was at the restaurant with Supakit Chearavanont, Chairman of the Board of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) and Charoen Pokphand Foods, Thailand’s largest agribusiness group.
CP Group did not comment on the meeting when asked by Reuters.
Media also reported that Ma attended a boxing match at Bangkok’s Rajadamnern Stadium where he posed with clenched fists for a photograph with Thai boxing champion Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek.
The Jack Ma Foundation did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Ma will give up control of the Chinese fintech giant Ant Group in an overhaul that seeks to draw a line under a regulatory crackdown that was triggered soon after its $73 billion IPO was scupper two years ago.
Chinese tech companies, including Alibaba and Ant, have been the target of a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on issues ranging from monopolistic behavior to consumer rights. – Rappler.com