- Alibaba founder Jack Ma resurfaced at a restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday.
- Ma’s photo was posted hours before Ant Group said Ma was relinquishing control of the company.
- Ant Group shut down a blockbuster in 2020, shortly after Ma criticized China’s regulations.
- For more stories, visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Jack Ma, the elusive billionaire founder of Alibaba, appeared to resurface in Thailand hours before Ant Group said he would relinquish control of the company.
A photo of Ma was posted to Instagram on Friday by restaurant Jay Fai in Bangkok, Thailand, where he appeared to have just been. “Incredibly humbled, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai’s,” the restaurant wrote in the caption.
The message was revealed hours before Ma was preparing to relinquish control of the company he founded, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement released Saturday, Ant, owner of the world’s largest mobile payments platform Alipay, said it was streamlining voting rights to prevent one shareholder from having a controlling vote.
The move would “further improve the stability of our corporate structure and the long-term sustainability of our development,” the statement said.
Ma disappeared from view in October 2020 after giving a speech criticizing China’s financial regulatory system.
Plans to list Ant Group on the stock exchange were abandoned the following month when Beijing intervened. Once China’s richest man, Ma’s wealth has fallen by more than $25 billion since he disappeared from public view, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
While Ma does not have an executive role or serve on Ant’s board, he maintained influence through a separate entity that he controlled. The changes announced on Saturday are the latest in a major overhaul ordered by Chinese authorities.
Ma has kept a very low profile since his run-in with the authorities. The TBEN suggested in November that he had lived in Tokyo for six months, staying out of public view and mainly socializing in members’ private clubs.
Some think the move could revive hopes of a floating Any, according to Reuters, but Chinese regulations requiring a pause on listings after a control change could delay such a move by at least a year.