Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma who has disappeared from his reality TV show
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who has not appeared in public for several weeks after criticizing the Chinese financial system, has disappeared as a judge on his TV talent show. Mr. Ma was absent from the final of “The Apprentice” along the lines of “Africa’s Business Heroes”, an offer that offers emerging African entrepreneurs an opportunity to compete for a share of US $ 1.5 million (£ 1.1 million) in prize money. Ma was originally to be part of the panel that judged contestants’ commercial ideas. But he was replaced as a judge by an CEO from Alibaba, the e-commerce company he founded, in the November final. His photo has also been removed from the refereeing web page and excluded from a promotional video, according to the Financial Times, which also stated that the broadcast of the final match was delayed until spring. The newspaper quoted an Alibaba spokesman as saying that Mr. Ma could no longer be part of the jury “due to a schedule inconsistency.” One of the most successful entrepreneurs in China, Mr. Ma appears to have offended his leaders after he criticized the country’s regulators and state-owned banks in late October. In a speech in Shanghai, he called for reform of the regulatory system, which he said stifles innovation. About a week later, the Shanghai Stock Exchange ordered the suspension of an initial public offering of $ 37 billion for Ant Group, a fintech company co-founded by Mr. Ma. Mr. Ma has reportedly not been seen in public since. In late December, Chinese authorities announced an investigation into Alibaba for suspected monopolistic behavior and ordered Ant Group to restructure its operations to meet regulatory guidelines. Chinese authorities are trying to tighten controls over the country’s financial sector, but they are also seen as wanting to curb the massive influence of private tech giants. Mr. Ma is a famous figure in China, and one of the country’s most famous businessmen abroad. A former English teacher, he founded Alibaba in 1999, which has become the largest online e-commerce company in China. He resigned as chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2019, but remains one of its biggest shareholders.