Jack Ma's reported Europe trip boosts Alibaba shares

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Oct 20, 2021, 04:55 PM IST
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File photo of Alibaba co-founder and chief Jack Ma. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Jack Ma's Alibaba was target of a major crackdown from the Chinese state. Reports of his Europe trip are being taken as an indication that he may be out of the crosshairs of Chinese authorities

Alibaba shares surged by more than six per cent as reports suggested that billionaire Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba was seen in Europe. This was taken to be an indication that worst of China's regulatory crackdown for the tech-giant may be over.

Jack Ma has been keeping a low profile even since Chinese officials scuttled Ant Group's record-breaking IPO worth USD 37 billion last November. The crackdown from the Chinese state came after Jack Ma's speech last year criticising Chinese regulators.

Ma's presence in Spain -- for a "study tour of the agricultural industry and technology related to the environment" -- was reported by the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba.

The paper said the 57-year-old, who retired from the role of Alibaba's chairman in 2019, was attending a series of business meetings in Europe.

It said he had also stayed in Hong Kong for "private time" with his family before his trip abroad, citing an anonymous source familiar with Ma's itinerary.

However, Alibaba spokesperson declined to comment as per Reuters.

But the news sent Alibaba's shares soaring, closing 6.67 percent higher in Hong Kong on Wednesday. So far this month, the firm's share price has surged 23 percent as hopes rise the company is now out of the dog house with authorities in Beijing.

That sentiment has also helped buoy Hong Kong's stock exchange, which has been hammered by China's regulatory crackdown in recent months.

The Hang Seng Index, one of the worst performers this year, is now up 10 percent since closing at a five-year low on October 6. 

"It's getting clearer and clearer that the worst of Beijing's crackdowns are behind us, in particular in the technology sector as they were the first to suffer," Jackson Wong, asset management director at Amber Hill Capital, told Bloomberg News. 

After Jack Ma's speech last year, Chinese authorities pulled Ant's IPO and followed up with an antitrust probe of Alibaba, eventually fining the company $2.75 billion.

Chinese authorities have also ordered Ant to undergo restructuring as a condition for reviving its IPO.

Ma disappeared towards the end of the last year but briefly resurfaced in January after a video clip showed him giving a speech to rural teachers as part of an event organised by his charity.

His trip to Spain is believed to be the first time he has travelled overseas since regulators went for Alibaba. 

(With inputs from agencies)