20th January 2021: Alibaba founder Jack Ma makes his first live appearance in three months in a virtual meet.
Baaghi TV: Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma appeared in a live video meeting on Wednesday morning, in the businessman’s first appearance since October.
Ma met 100 rural teachers in China through a virtual meeting triggering a sharp jump in the Hong Kong-listed shares of the e-commerce giant.
According to earlier reports, speculation on social media over the whereabouts of China’s highest-profile entrepreneur surfaced this month after he missed the final episode of a TV show featuring him as a judge.
Since Oct last year, Ma had not appeared in public after he blasted China’s regulatory system in a speech at a Shanghai forum that set him on a collision course with officials, leading to the suspension of a $37-billion IPO of Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Group.
Tianmu News, a news portal under Zhejiang Online, backed by the provincial Zhejiang government, first reported that Ma had met with the teachers via a live video conference on Wednesday.
BREAKING: Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who had not been seen in public in nearly 3 months, appears on video, saying: "We’ll meet again after the epidemic is over" pic.twitter.com/aFQyDWB7wQ
— BNO News (@BNONews) January 20, 2021
The Jack Ma Foundation also reported that Ma participated in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher Initiative event on Wednesday.
Alibaba Group also confirmed that Jack Ma attended the online event.
After the news of Ma’s appearance, Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares jumped more than six per cent, compared with a 0.64 pc rise in the Hang Seng index.
Ma’s public appearance comes amid Alibaba plans to raise at least $5 billion through the sale of a US dollar-denominated bond this month.
Reuters reported the bond proceeds could reach $8 billion, which Ma was likely to use for general corporate expenditure.
In the 50-second video, Ma addressed teachers receiving the Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award, who in previous years had been attending a ceremony organised by the Jack Ma Foundation in the Chinese seaside city of Sanya.
Without discussing his whereabouts, Ma said in his speech, “We cannot meet in Sanya due to the epidemic.”
“When the epidemic is over, we must find time to make up for everyone’s trip to Sanya, and then we will meet again!”
Founder of Chinese tech website Techie Crab, Xie Pu said that Ma’s move to lay low and his stepping away from the public spotlight should not have been seen as a problem for his company.
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