Alibaba's Jack Ma makes first public appearance in three months

SHANGHAI – Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma made his first appearance since October on Wednesday speaking on video with a group of teachers to allay concerns over his unusual absence from public life and stakes in e-commerce -Giant to send.

Speculation about Ma’s whereabouts has spread amid news this month that he was replaced on the final episode of a reality TV show he was a judge and that Beijing has put regulatory pressure on its sprawling business empire .

The billionaire, who commands cultic awe in China, hadn’t appeared in public since October 24, when he blew up China’s regulatory system in a speech at a forum in Shanghai.

This put him on a collision course with officials and resulted in the suspension of a $ 37 billion blockbuster IPO for Alibaba’s financial firm Ant Group.

Alibaba and its nonprofit foundation both confirmed that it attended an online ceremony on Wednesday for an annual event for country teachers.

In the 50-second video, Ma spoke in a navy sweater from a room with gray walls, a large painting, and flower arrangements. It wasn’t clear where the room was.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong listed stocks jumped over 10 percent on the news, This was first reported by Tianmu News, a media company backed by the government of Zhejiang, the province where Alibaba’s headquarters are located.

“The reappearance of Jack Ma has given investors the reassurance, after much rumor, that they can pile into the stock that was lagging in the market,” said Steven Leung, sales director at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.

The topic of “Jack Ma making public appearance for the first time” and his video address to teachers soon began to spread on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, sparking heated discussions.

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Although Ma has stepped down from corporate positions, he retains significant influence over Alibaba and Ant and promotes them at business and political events around the world. He continues to mentor management talent in the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 35 corporate managers.

China has tightened government crackdown on anti-competitive behavior in the internet sector, and Alibaba has been the target of an antitrust investigation launched by Chinese authorities last month.

The company plans to raise at least $ 5 billion this month by selling a US dollar-denominated bond.

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