(CapitalWatch, Dec. 1, New York) Jack Ma, Alibaba's founder who has been practically untraceable since Beijing began its crackdown on China's major corporations, was recently reported to be in Tokyo.
According to the Nikkei-owned Financial Times, anonymous sources have placed Ma in Tokyo where he is said to be living the high life despite the chaos back home.
Ma's whereabouts have been kept tightly under wraps since the tech billionaire made critical comments against China's financial and tech regulations.
Shortly after Ma's comments, Beijing launched its monthslong crackdown on the country's tech titans. Alibaba (NYSE: BABA; HKEX: 9988) was slammed with billions of dollars in fines over antitrust and other regulatory violations.
Alibaba was also forced to distance itself from its fintech subsidiary Ant Group after regulators put a stop to the fintech company's would-be mega IPO in Hong Kong. Alibaba was also forced to dump certain assets.
In the meantime, Ant Group is still undergoing restructuring in an effort to gain approval for another public listing.
BABA shares have dropped over 31% over the past year. Over the past two years, the giant has lost 70% of its market value. The targeting of his company by regulators ousted Ma from the position of China's richest man, but with over $20 billion in net worth left over, he'll probably be okay.
Ma has remained a trending topic both in China and abroad. According to anonymous sources, Ma is currently in Tokyo enjoying local luxury resorts and still doing business.
Analysts and social media users have wondered about Ma's safety after his critical comments reportedly upset President Xi Jinping. When Ma first disappeared for months, some wondered if he was facing political retribution for his comments.
The handful of sightings of Ma in several countries over the last two years and the new reports of Ma living lavishly in Tokyo tell a different story.
The reports suggest that it's business as usual for Ma in Japan, but China's ongoing Covid policies and the potential regulatory retribution waiting for him means Ma may not be able to return to his home country for some time.