JACK MA, the billionaire founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba who has been living in Japan for the past six months after disappearing from public view amid Beijing’s crackdown on tech companies, is currently visiting Thailand, Matichon newspaper said this evening (Jan. 6).
During his stay in Bangkok Ma watched boxing matches at Ratchadamnoen boxing stadium where he posed for a photo with clenched fists.
He also met boxing champion Sombat Banchamek, whose ring name is Buakaw Banchamek, and watched the matches from the VIP zone.
He dined at the restaurant of Michelin star winner Jay Fai. The restaurateur later posted photos of Ma with Ms. Marisa Chearavanont at her restaurant on Facebook and said, “There was a lot of humility. It was an honour to welcome you and your family at Jay Fai restaurant.”
During his stay in Japan Ma kept a low profile while taking up hobbies like painting watercolours, collecting art, bathing in hot springs, and skiing in the countryside outside of Tokyo, New York Post quoted the Financial Times as saying recently.
The tech mogul has also frequented exclusive membership clubs in Tokyo’s Ginza and Marunouchi districts, where he rubs shoulders with wealthy Chinese business people who have also left the mainland and have relocated to Japan’s capital city.
The 58-year-old Ma, who has largely turned over control of his companies to younger executives, is said to be venturing into non-tech businesses involving sustainability.
Ma, whose net worth has been pegged by Bloomberg Billionaires Index at $30.2 billion, has largely disappeared from the public eye since October 2020, when he openly criticised Chinese state regulators for allegedly stifling innovation.
The Chinese government retaliated by halting the $37 billion initial public offering of Ant Group, an online finance platform that grew out of Alipay, Alibaba’s in-house mobile payment app.
Alibaba’s share price sank, which cost Ma his status as China’s richest tycoon. In the days before Ma offered up his criticism of state regulators, his net worth reached a peak of more than $60 billion.
Since then, the normally voluble Ma has gone silent, cancelling a TV appearance and avoiding social media.
That has prompted a flurry of speculation about what might happen to Ma, China’s biggest global business celebrity and a symbol of its tech boom.
In recent months, Ma generated headlines after he was spotted on a yacht off the coast of the Spanish island of Mallorca. He also paid a visit to a Dutch university to learn about sustainable food production.
Last year, Ma was also seen playing golf in the Czech Republic.
Jack Ma at Ratchadamnoen boxing stadium and greeting Jay Fai. Photos: Matichon