Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been living in Tokyo for half a year: Report

Mr Jack Ma retreated from the spotlight after his criticism of government regulation landed him in trouble with Beijing. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO – Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma has been living in Tokyo for nearly six months, after Beijing’s crackdown on the technology sector, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding has punctuated his stay in Japan with trips to the countryside and regular visits to the United States and Israel, the paper said, citing sources with knowledge of his whereabouts. Mr Ma is a close friend of billionaire Masayoshi Son, founder of Tokyo-based SoftBank Group and an early investor in Alibaba.

Once China’s wealthiest and most prominent tech leader, Mr Ma retreated from the spotlight in recent years after his criticism of government regulation landed him in trouble with Beijing, derailing the initial public offering (IPO) of fintech giant Ant Group.

That was followed by an expansive crackdown on the private sector in China, particularly aimed at reining in the power of Internet firms. His rare public appearances since then have been closely watched.

In Tokyo, Mr Ma has kept to a handful of private members’ clubs in the central districts of Ginza and Marunouchi, the Financial Times said. He has also brought along his personal chef and security staff and become an enthusiastic modern art collector, the paper added.

Mr Ma, previously a high-profile fixture at business conferences, led large-scale international donations of protective equipment and other gear the world needed in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This July, a report said Mr Ma planned to hand over control of Ant Group to appease Chinese regulators and revive the digital payments unit’s IPO.

His e-commerce giant Alibaba reported flat revenue growth in August for the first time, as China battled an economic slowdown and resurgent Covid-19 cases.

The 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. BLOOMBERG, AFP

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