Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) founder Jack Ma (馬雲) has been living in Tokyo for almost six months after disappearing from public view following China’s crackdown on the tech sector, the Financial Times reported yesterday, citing multiple unnamed sources.
The billionaire has kept a low profile since the crackdown, which has included Chinese regulators scrapping the initial public offering of Ma’s Ant Group Co (螞蟻集團) and issuing Alibaba with record fines.
However, the Times said he has spent much of the past six months with his family in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, along with visits to the US and Israel.
The British newspaper said Ma has frequented several private members’ clubs in Tokyo. He also brought his personal chef and security staff with him and has become an “enthusiastic collector” of Japanese modern art, as well as exploring expanding his business interests to include sustainability, the paper said.
Ma is a close friend of Masayoshi Son, founder of Tokyo-based Softbank Group Corp and an early investor in Alibaba.
Ma has been spotted elsewhere since he effectively disappeared from public view in China, including on the Spanish island of Mallorca last year.
In the past few years, Chinese officials have taken aim at alleged anti-competitive practices by some of the country’s biggest names, driven by fears that major Internet firms control too much data and expanded too quickly.
In July, a report said that Ma planned to hand over control of Ant Group to appease Chinese regulators and revive the digital payments unit’s initial public offering.
His e-commerce giant Alibaba in August reported flat revenue growth for the first time, as China battled an economic slowdown and resurgent COVID-19 cases.
US authorities have put the company on a watchlist that could see it delisted in New York if it does not comply with disclosure orders, causing its shares to slump.
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