- Alibaba founder Jack Ma appeared to resurface at a restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday.
- The picture of Ma was posted hours before Ant Group said Ma was giving up control of the company.
- Ant Group abandoned a blockbuster float in 2020 soon after Ma criticized Chinese regulations.
Jack Ma, the elusive billionaire founder of Alibaba, appeared to resurface in Thailand hours before Ant Group said he would give up control of the company.
A picture of Ma was posted on Instagram by Jay Fai restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday, which he appeared to have just visited. “Incredibly humble, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai’s,” the restaurant wrote in its caption.
The post was published hours before it was revealed that Ma was preparing to give up control of the company he founded, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement published Saturday, Ant, which owns the world’s largest mobile payment platform Alipay, said it was streamlining voting rights to prevent any one shareholder from having a controlling vote.
The move would “further enhance the stability of our corporate structure and sustainability of our long-term development,” according to the statement.
Ma disappeared from public view in October 2020 after giving a speech criticizing China’s financial regulation system.
Plans to list Ant Group on the stock market were abandoned the following month when Beijing intervened. Once China’s richest man, Ma’s net worth has fallen by more than $25 billion since he disappeared from public view, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
While Ma doesn’t have an executive role or sit on Ant’s board, he maintained influence through a separate entity he controlled. The changes announced on Saturday are the latest in a sweeping overhaul at the behest of Chinese authorities.
Ma has maintained a very low profile since his run-in with authorities. The Financial Times suggested in November that he had been living in Tokyo for six months, staying out of public view and mainly socializing in private members’ clubs.
Some think the move could revive hopes of floating Any, per Reuters, but Chinese regulations that require a pause on listings following a change in control may delay such a move by at least a year.