Jack Ma, China’s billionaire and founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba,
has travelled to Europe for an agriculture study tour, his first trip
abroad since he ran into trouble with the Chinese government last year
over violating anti-monopoly regulations.
Before flying to Europe, Ma was in Hong Kong to spend low-key private
time with his family, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post,
which is owned by him, reported on Wednesday.
Jack Ma is currently in Spain for an agriculture and technology study
tour related to environmental issues, it said.
He will be in Europe for a series of business meetings and an
agriculture study tour. It will be his first overseas trip in more than
a year. Previously, Ma spent one of every three days travelling in 2018,
the Post report said.
Ma retired as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019 on his 55th birthday, sparking
speculation about his sudden decision to step down from the helm.
He is lying low right now, his close associate Joseph Tsai, executive
vice-chairman of Alibaba said during the height of the crackdown against
the firm, refuting speculative reports about his prolonged absence from
Alibaba went through a stormy 2020, with Ma being summoned by national
regulators after he likened traditional Chinese banks to pawn shops and
questioned whether the Basel Accords a set of global banking regulatory
recommendations were suitable for China.
In December, Beijing launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba and
slapped a record fine of USD 2.8 billion on the tech giant for
Alibaba suffered a major setback last year after the Shanghai Stock
Exchange suspended dual listing of the shares of the world’s biggest
initial public offer of USD 39.7 billion of the group’s subsidiary – the
Ant Group, 48 hours before the highly-anticipated trading was due to start.
Born in a poor family, Ma, grew up to be one of the country’s richest
men and the most revered businessman among the Chinese people.
The sudden and surprise announcement by Ma in 2019 to retire stating
that he preferred to die at a beach than at his work table set off
speculation that he was feeling the weight of the ruling Communist Party
of China, (CPC), which firmly exercised its control over China’s top
businesses prompting him to downsize his business.