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Jack Ma makes his first appearance since October

Jack Ma makes his first appearance since October

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma made his first appearance since Chinese regulators cracked down on his business empire.

His absence had fueled speculation about his whereabouts amid increasing official scrutiny of his business.

The billionaire met 100 rural teachers in China through a video meeting on Wednesday, according to local government media.

Alibaba shares rose 5% on the Hong Kong stock exchange following the news.

Tianmu News, which is backed by the Zhejiang provincial government, first reported that Mr. Ma addressed the teachers as part of one of his charitable foundation initiatives.

The annual event is usually held in the resort town of Sanya, but was held online this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"We cannot meet in Sanya due to the epidemic," he said in the speech.

"When the epidemic is over, we must find time to make up for everyone's trip to Sanya, and then we will meet again!"

In the video, he was dressed in a blue sweater and spoke directly to the camera from a room with gray marble walls and a striped rug.

It was unclear from the video or in the Tianmu News article where he was speaking from.

Regulatory scrutiny

Last month, China's central bank attracted executives from Ant Group and ordered a major reorganization of the company's operations.

Ma is the founder and key shareholder of Ant Group, which is China's largest payments provider.

Before ordering the reorganization of the company, regulators had already ruined Ant Group's listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges.

The $ 37 billion stock market offering was expected to be the largest in 2020.

Meanwhile, the State Administration of Market Regulation of China announced an investigation into Alibaba for monopolistic practices.

Suspicions about Ma's whereabouts arose earlier this month, when he missed the recording of Africa's Business Heroes, a television show in which he was a judge.

Although Alibaba attributed his absence to a scheduling conflict, multiple media reports said he had not been seen since he made comments that were deemed critical of China's banking system at a public event in Shanghai in October.

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