Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group have experienced a significant decline in value, losing a staggering $850 billion since their peak in 2020. This drastic drop can be attributed to the regulatory scrutiny that followed Ma’s criticism of Beijing, triggering a series of actions against his companies.
However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for Ma and his enterprises. On Friday, China’s central bank announced a fine of $985 million for Ant Group, signaling a potential end to the prolonged regulatory crackdown. This development indicates a shift in the tide for the embattled Chinese tech titan.
The consequences of the crackdown have been severe, not only impacting Ma’s wealth but also affecting the market valuations of the companies he is associated with. Bloomberg’s calculations reveal that Alibaba, the flagship company he co-founded, has witnessed a staggering 45% decline in market value, amounting to $620 billion since reaching its peak in 2020.
Ant Group, the fintech giant co-founded by Ma and responsible for the Alipay payments app, has suffered greatly as well. Its current valuation stands at approximately $78.5 billion, a sharp 75% drop from its previous valuation of $315 billion before the regulatory crackdown in 2020 thwarted its initial public offering (IPO) plans.
The combined effect of these valuation losses has had a significant impact on Jack Ma’s net worth, which has plummeted from around $61 billion in October 2020 to $34.1 billion as of the latest data available from Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
Beyond the financial repercussions, Jack Ma’s has personally faced challenges. He has chosen to maintain a low profile for over two years now, presumably to navigate the ongoing situation. In October 2020, his critical remarks about China’s financial regulatory system and banking practices drew the ire of Chinese authorities, leading to intense regulatory scrutiny of his businesses and a broader crackdown on the tech industry in China.
During this period, Ma’s public appearances have been rare. He was spotted in Bangkok in January, indulging in the culinary delights of a Michelin-starred street-food restaurant and attending a Muay Thai fight. He also made an appearance in Hong Kong that same month.
In March, Ma returned to his hometown of Hangzhou in eastern China to visit a school he had founded. Subsequently, in April, he was appointed an honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong, and in May, he took up a teaching position in Japan. These roles marked his reemergence in the public eye since his disappearance from the spotlight in 2020.
Recently, Jack Ma’s attended the Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition finals in Hangzhou, the city where Alibaba is headquartered. This appearance highlights his ongoing involvement with the company and his willingness to engage in public events.
The news of the fine imposed on Ant Group has had a positive impact on Alibaba’s shares. In Hong Kong, the company’s shares were up 3.1% at 86.90 Hong Kong dollars per share at midday, while in New York, they closed 8.1% higher at $90.55 per share on Friday.
With the regulatory crackdown potentially drawing to a close, it remains to be seen how Jack Ma’s empire will fare in the coming months. As the situation evolves, stakeholders and industry observers will be closely watching for any signs of recovery or further challenges for the renowned Chinese entrepreneur and his businesses.