Alibaba shares rose more than 6 percent Wednesday, after Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, was reported to have been in Europe. Investors hope that China’s regulatory crackdown on the internet giant may be over.
Since the record-breaking 37 billion dollar initial public by Ant’s financial group on November 11, 2013, Ma has been quiet.
This shock decision triggered a series of Chinese authorities crackdowns on tech and other industries that were deemed too powerful, unregulated, or monopolistic.
The South China Morning Post, owned by Alibaba, reported Ma’s presence to Spain for a “study trip of the agricultural industry technology related to environment”
According to the paper, the 57-year old had been attending business meetings in Europe after he retired as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019.
According to an anonymous source, Ma claimed that he had also been in Hong Kong for “private” time before his trip abroad.
A spokesperson for Alibaba declined to comment. Alibaba shares rose 6.67 percent in Hong Kong after the news. As hopes rise, the share price of Alibaba has risen 23 percent this month as the company’s shares surged.
This sentiment has helped Hong Kong’s stock market to rebound after it was hit hard by China’s regulatory crackdown.
The Hang Seng Index, which was one of the worst performers in this year’s market, has now risen 10 percent from a low of 5 October.
“It’s becoming clearer and clearer, that the worst Beijing’s crackdowns have been behind us, in special in the technology sector, as they were the first ones to suffer,” Jackson Wong (Amber Hill Capital’s asset management director), told Bloomberg News.
After Ma’s speech denigrating China’s financial regulators, Alibaba was quickly out of favor.
Authorities pulled Ant’s IPO, followed by an antitrust investigation of Alibaba, which eventually led to the fining of 2.75 billion dollars.
Chinese authorities also required Ant to undergo restructuring in order for the IPO to be revived.
Ma vanished towards the end last year, but briefly returned in January after a clip of him giving a speech at rural teachers as part a charity event.
His trip to Spain is thought to be his first overseas trip since the regulators took over for Alibaba.