Amid reports of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s disappearance, Fred Hu, the chairman of private equity firm Primavera Group, has said that he believes he is “safe and sound” and is “laying low” for the time being. Primavera counts China’s Ant Group among its portfolio companies.
Ever since Ant’s IPO fiasco, Jack Ma, Alibaba founder who also manages Ant, has been missing. He has not been seen in public since October last year.
Without elaborating much, Hu said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Wednesday: “I believe he is safe and sound. He remains an enduring example of successful entrepreneurship.”
Fred Hu’s statement indicates that, in the ongoing dispute between Jack Ma and the Chinese government, the Chinese billionaire is currently “laying low”.
Jack Ma mysteriously missing after his disparaging statements against CCP govt
Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who also controls e-commerce giant Alibaba’s affiliate Ant, has not been seen in public since Ant’s IPO debacle. The business tycoon had been mysteriously missing after he made disparaging statements against Communist-ruled China’s government and was reported off the radar by several Chinese run media outlets.
Ma had gone on a tirade against China’s current banking system, the financial regulatory structure of the Communist-ruled country and how it was unsuitable for his fintech giant, Ant group. Ma’s critical remarks for the Communist regime, which demands nothing more than complete and utter obedience, terminated the planned IPO of his fintech giant, Ant Group, on November 3, just two days before it was scheduled to begin trading.
Days after his unflattering opinion of the Chinese authorities, Ma was summoned to a meeting with Communist Party officials. His other venture, Alibaba is also under investigation for monopolistic behaviour, as per a statement released by the Chinese Communist Party’s market supervision arm.
Jack Ma has not been spotted since October. Ma was conspicuous by his absence when the billionaire was replaced as a judge in the final of his own show—Africa’s Business Heroes, a television contest for budding entrepreneurs—and his photograph was removed from the judging webpage. Apparently, he has also been conspicuously left out of a promotional video.
Reports emerge suggesting Ma ’embracing supervision’ at an unknown location
Days after the mysterious disappearance of Ma, the Chinese mouthpiece, People’s Daily, reported that Jack Ma has been ’embracing supervision’ at an unknown location. However, Duncan Clark, the chairman of BDA China, said that he does not believe that Jack Ma was under custody. He emphasised, “I think he’s been told to lay low. This is a pretty unique situation, more linked to the sheer scale of Ant Group (owned by Jack Ma) and the sensitivities over financial regulation.”
Earlier, Bloomberg had reported that the business tycoon was told by the Chinese regime to not leave the country.
Ma’s disappearance from the public sphere is a part of a bigger design by the CCP to exact compliance and loyalty from individuals who hold great sway in shaping public opinion. It is apposite to note that Jack Ma is not the first high-profile man to have disappeared out of a thin air.
Reportedly, China legalised secret detentions back in 2013. As such, several well-known people from various walks of life including actress Fan Bingbing, ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, businessman and investor Guo Guangchang, and ex-real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang were made to disappear. All of them, however, mysteriously reappeared after some time.