Alibaba Group (BABA) founder Jack Ma spoke at the charity event via video link, his first public appearance in the last three months. He spoke for the first time since his speech at a financial conference in Shanghai at the end of October 2020, when he criticized the Chinese government for hindering financial innovation. On Wednesday, January 20, company shares rose 9.2% in Hong Kong trading on the news of Jack Ma’s public appearance.
Brock Silvers, CEO of Hong Kong-based private equity firm Kaiyuan Capital, told Bloomberg that “Jack Ma’s sudden return, just like his disappearance, shows that his relationship with the Beijing government has stabilized.”
The IPO of a subsidiary of Alibaba, fintech Ant Group, was halted after Jack Ma spoke at a Shanghai forum earlier this year. An IPO was proposed on two sites simultaneously in Shanghai and Hong Kong – to raise $34.4 billion, the largest in history. A billionaire even suggested nationalizing a portion of Ant Group’s assets to prevent the IPO’s cancellation.
The Chinese authorities reportedly advised Ma not to leave the country in late December, according to Bloomberg. Alibaba Group (BABA) has been the target of an antitrust investigation launched by the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation. This message resulted in an 11% drop in shares and an $80 billion drop in Alibaba’s market cap.
According to the CNBC journalist David Faber, in early January, Ma is not missing. According to him, Ma “went to the bottom of the barrel” in Hangzhou, where Alibaba’s HQ is located. The New York Stock Exchange has seen Alibaba shares rise over 5% after a story from CNBC.
Meanwhile, A Chinese logistics company with Alibaba as its biggest shareholder, BEST Inc. (NYSE: BEST), is trading at over 20% pre-market today. In a strategic review, the company had considered a sale as a possible way to maximize profits. According to Reuters, six sources have information about the matter. According to Reuters’ sources, Best has already tapped financial advisers to analyze possible alternatives after its shares underperformed. Also, its shares were trading at a fifth of the IPO price in 2018.
Alibaba Group (BABA) holds a 33% share in Best and an 11% stake in Best, which was incorporated by Best founder and CEO Johnny Chou. If a deal struck, Alibaba and Chou may end up selling their stake in the company. There has been no formal sales process launched yet. But it appears there are offers on the table for sale. The other option that Best has is to sell off its finance leasing business.