Speculation about the whereabouts of Chinese tech tycoon Jack Ma

Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s absence from the public for the past two months, including missing the last episode of a TV show he was to appear as a judge on, has sparked speculation on social media about his whereabouts in a Chinese settlement of his extensive business. Empire.

China’s most prominent entrepreneur has not appeared in public since a late October forum in Shanghai, where he blew up China’s regulatory system in a speech that put him on a collision course with officials, resulting in the repeal of a $ 37 billion IPO by Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech arm.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Ma was replaced as a judge in the last episode of November by a game show for entrepreneurs called Africa’s Business Heroes.

An Alibaba spokeswoman told Reuters on Monday that the change was due to a scheduling conflict, which further reduced comments.

While the news coverage of Ma’s absence from the public sparked speculation on Twitter, which is blocked in China, it was not an important trend topic on social media in China, where sensitive topics are subject to censorship.

Chinese regulators have reset Ma’s companies since his speech in October, including by launching an antitrust probe into Alibaba and ordering Ant to shake up its lending and other consumer finance companies, including the creation of a separate holding company to meet capital requirements.

“I think he has been told to lie low,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based technical consulting firm BDA China. “This is a rather unique situation, more linked to the large amount of Ant and the sensitivity to financial regulation,” he said.

Alibaba’s shares in Hong Kong fell 2.15% on Monday.