Jack Ma spotted in Bangkok, Thailand

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Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and one of the most famous billionaires from China, appeared in Bangkok, Thailand.

Jay Fai, the restaurant which received one star in the inaugural Bangkok 2018 Michelin Guide and is known for its crab omelet, posted a photo of Ma and the eatery’s owner on Jan. 6.

The post’s caption said: “Incredibly humble, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai’s.”

According to Thai media and Reuters, Ma was at the restaurant with Soopakij Chearavanont, the chair of the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP).

Ma was also apparently at a Muay Thai fight on Jan. 5.

He was seen posing in a boxing stance with the Thai boxing champion Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek.

Significance of Ma’s reappearance

Ma’s reappearance in Thailand came hours before Ant Group said he would give up control of the company.

Ma disappeared from public view in October 2020 after a speech he gave criticised China’s financial-regulation system.

Ant Group abandoned plans to list the company on the stock market the following month when the Chinese government intervened.

Ma’s net worth has fallen by more than US$25 billion, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after he stayed away from public view for more than two years.

He was China’s richest man.

In a statement published on Saturday, a spokesperson said Ant Group 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.

Ant Group owns the world’s largest mobile-payment platform, Alipay.

Ma does not hold an executive role or sit on Ant Group’s board.

However, he has maintained influence through a separate entity he controlled.

The changes announced on Saturday are the latest in changes likely stage managed by the Chinese authorities.

Ma’s low profile

Ma has maintained a very low profile.

It was reported he had been living in Tokyo for six months, staying out of the public view and mainly patronising private members’ clubs.

He was previously said to have been somewhere in China keeping a low profile.

Some think the recent move in China could revive hopes of floating Ant and taking it public, Reuters reported.

But such a move may be delayed by at least a year owing to Chinese regulations that require a pause on listings following a change in control.

Top photos via Jay Fai