Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba who disappeared from public view in 2020, appears to resurface in Thailand as he prepares to give up control of his company
- Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, appeared to resurface in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday.
- The picture of Ma was posted hours before Ant Group said Ma was giving up control of the company.
Jack Ma, the elusive billionaire founder of Alibaba, appeared to resurface in Thailand hours before Ant Group said he would give up control of the company.
Jay Fai restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand posted a picture of Ma on Instagram Friday, where he appears to have just visited the restaurant. "Incredibly humble, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai's," the caption on the post reads.
The post was published hours before The Wall Street Journal first reported that Ma was preparing to give up control of the company he founded.
According to local media, and reported by Reuters, Ma was at the restaurant with Soopakij Chearavanont, the chair of the Charoen Pokphand Group.
Ma was also apparently pictured at a Muay Thai fight on Thursday posing in a fighting stance for a photograph with the Thai boxing champion Sombat "Buakaw" Banchamek.
In a statement published Saturday, a spokesperson for Ant Group, which owns the world's largest mobile-payment platform, Alipay, said the company was streamlining voting rights to prevent any one shareholder from having a controlling vote.
The move would "further enhance the stability of our corporate structure and sustainability of our long-term development," according to the statement.
Ma disappeared from public view in October 2020 after giving a speech criticizing China's financial-regulation system.
Ant Group abandoned plans to list the company on the stock market the following month when Beijing intervened. Once China's richest man, Ma's net worth has fallen by more than $25 billion since he disappeared from public view, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
While Ma doesn't hold an executive role or sit on Ant Group's board, he maintained influence through a separate entity he controlled. The changes announced on Saturday are the latest in a sweeping overhaul at the behest of Chinese authorities.
Ma has maintained a very low profile since his run-in with authorities. The Financial Times suggested in November that he had been living in Tokyo for six months, staying out of the public view and mainly socializing in private members' clubs.
Some think the move could revive hopes of floating Ant, per Reuters, but Chinese regulations that require a pause on listings following a change in control may delay such a move by at least a year.
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