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    Jack Ma’s run-in with Beijing not only saw him disappearing for over 2 years, it also cost his companies over $850 billion

    Jack Ma’s empire came under regulatory scrutiny following his criticism of Beijing in late 2020.Wang HE/Getty Images

    • Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group collectively lost $850 billion in value since their peak in 2020.

    • They came under pressure following Ma’s criticism of Beijing, which spurred a regulatory crackdown.

    • On Friday, Beijing announced a $985 million fine for Ant Group, signaling an end to the crackdown.

    Chinese tech titan Jack Ma had been having it rough ever since his criticism of Beijing triggered a backlash on his companies and wealth — but a recent development may change the tide.

    On Friday, China’s central bank announced a fine of 7.12 billion yuan, or $985 million, for Ant Group — the fintech giant co-founded by Ma that operates the Alipay payments app — signaling that its years-long regulatory crackdown is ending.

    But the years-long crackdown has taken a heavy toll on Ma’s wealth and the market valuations of the companies he holds stakes in.

    Alibaba — the flagship company he co-founded — saw a 45%, or $620 billion, drop in market value since shares hit their peak in 2020, per Bloomberg’s calculations on Sunday.

    Ant Group is now valued at around $78.5 billion — marking a steep 75% discount to its valuation of $315 billion in a scuttled IPO before Beijing’s regulatory crackdown in 2020.

    The collective $850 billion wipeout in Alibaba and Ant’s valuations has sent Ma’s net worth plunging from about $61 billion in October 2020 to $34.1 billion as of Monday, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

    On a personal level, Ma has also been lying low for more than two years.

    Ma angered Chinese authorities after giving a speech in October 2020 in which he criticized China’s financial regulatory system and claimed Chinese banks were operating with a “pawnshop” mentality. His words prompted intense regulatory scrutiny of his businesses — including Alibaba and Ant — and a wider crackdown on tech firms in China.

    In January, he was spotted in Bangkok, where he visited a Michelin-starred street-food restaurant and watched a Muay Thai fight. He also popped up in Hong Kong in the same month.

    In March, Ma returned to a school he founded in his hometown of Hangzhou in eastern China.

    In April, he was appointed an honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong. In May, Ma took up a teaching position in Japan, one of the first public roles he has assumed since disappearing from the spotlight in 2020.

    Last month, Ma attended the Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition finals in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based.

    Alibaba shares in Hong Kong were up 3.1% at 86.90 Hong Kong dollars apiece at midday, buoyed by news of the fine. The company’s shares in New York closed 8.1% higher at $90.55 apiece on Friday.

    Read the original article on Business Insider



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