- The list was published on the same day that Alibaba is scheduled to report its latest quarterly earnings.
- Ma’s exclusion from the list shows the extent to which the businessman has lost favor with Beijing.
- Ma disappeared from the public eye for about three months, generating speculation about his whereabouts.
Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has not been included in a list of Chinese business leaders published Tuesday in a front-page article in the state-run Shanghai Securities News, Reuters reports. The list does include Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei Technologies, Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, and Wang Chuanfu, founder of BYD Auto.
The list was published on the same day that Alibaba is scheduled to report its latest quarterly earnings.
The Shanghai Securities News explained that while some of the entrepreneurs it praises had once behaved like “reckless heroes” in their efforts to break away from an old and rigid economic system, they now run “a group of companies that respect development rules and comply with market rules.”
Reuters, which indicates that the Chinese e-commerce giant did not immediately respond to its request for comment, considers that Ma’s exclusion from the aforementioned list shows the extent to which the businessman has lost favor with Beijing.
The root of Ma’s current troubles was a speech delivered on Oct. 24 criticizing China’s regulatory system, prompting the $37 billion IPO of his fintech company, Ant Group, to be suspended.
Since then, regulators in the Asian country have opened an antitrust investigation in the technology sector that has largely focused on Alibaba. They also contemplate imposing stricter regulations for Ant Group.
After what happened, Ma disappeared from the public eye for about three months, generating speculation about his whereabouts. However, last month he reappeared in a video conference. This intervention generated a positive effect among investors, causing the market value of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to rise to $58 billion on the same day.
During his speech, the Chinese tycoon did not refer to his recent disagreements with Beijing, and limited himself to saying that he plans to devote more time to philanthropy and highlighting the importance of reducing the wage gap and income inequality.
Ma and Alibaba— the powerhouse e-commerce company that he co-founded and over which he still holds considerable sway— are currently facing increasing trouble with the Chinese government.
Also worth noting is the fact that Chinese government officials are going on with the circling of Ant Group, the fintech giant that Ma had spun out of Alibaba.
Last month, the Chinese government quashed Ant Group’s planned blockbuster initial public offering, coming less than two weeks following Ma’s public castigation of financial regulators for being obsessed with minimizing risk.
He also fired salvos at China’s banks, accusing the financial institutions of behaving like “pawnshops,” owing to their policy of only lending to those who can put up collateral. On Thursday, on the same morning that the Alibaba antitrust investigation was announced, four regulatory agencies said that officials would meet with Ant Group to discuss new supervision measures.