Elusive Chinese billionaire Jack Ma ‘spotted in Australia’

Billionaires

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was recently seen in Australia, Bloomberg reported, in what appears to be a continuation of a quiet world tour for the elusive Chinese billionaire who has largely kept a low profile following Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on his business empire in 2020.
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group. Image: Getty

According to Bloomberg, Ma was last week spotted in Melbourne along with the family of one of his long-time friends.

Chinese state-run outlet Yicai reported Ma is spending time with the family of Ken Morley, with whom the billionaire had developed a close friendship after a chance meeting in the 1980s.

Ma’s trip to Australia is the latest in a line of low-profile foreign visits by the formerly jet-setting billionaire.

The trip also comes a month after it was announced that Ma would be relinquishing control of the fintech giant Ant Group after a long regulatory crackdown on his business empire by Beijing.

Where is Jack Ma?

Ma has almost completely disappeared from public view after Chinese regulators shut down his fintech company Ant Group’s US$35 billion IPO in late 2020.

After sporadic sightings outside the country in 2021, the Financial Times reported in November that Ma and his family had been living in Japan for at least six months.

The List

During this period, Ma reportedly made several visits to Israel and the United States. Early in January, he was spotted in Thailand attending a Muay Thai event. Later that month, the billionaire visited Hong Kong to conduct a series of meetings with “tech and finance executives” according to Bloomberg.

Key Background

Formerly the richest person in China, Ma has seen his fortunes and his public image slump as Chinese President Xi Jinping and his government have tried to rein in the country’s tech giants. Ma in particular drew Beijing’s ire after criticising the country’s financial regulators in a public speech in Shanghai. Beijing’s crackdown appears to have eased in the past few months as Ma has agreed to cede control of Ant Group—which he co-founded and helped grow into one of China’s most dominant fintech players. This move will allow Ant Group to distance itself from Jack Ma’s other tech giant, Alibaba.

Forbes Valuation

According to our estimates, Ma’s net worth is$24.2 billion, down sharply from a peak of $66.6 billion in 2020. The drop in his fortune has pushed him from number one to seventh on our list of China’s wealthiest.

This story was first published on forbes.com

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