THE STORY. What happened to Jack Ma after he mysteriously disappeared?
In the period after his disgrace, Jack Ma visited Sanya on Hainan Island, a Chinese holiday destination, several times. He spends his days playing golf, his favorite sport, along with martial arts… So he’s still free, but he’s clearly withdrawn from public life. Its appearances can be counted on the fingers. We see him for the first time on January 20, 2021. He speaks in a short video released by Tianmu News, a little-known official media outlet, at the end of a ceremony by the Jack Ma Foundation highlighting teachers from rural areas. Country. His tone is unusually monotone.
A little later, on April 14, he took part in a videoconference meeting of the Russian Geographical Society in the presence of Vladimir Putin. On screen, he can be seen rubbing the Russian leader as he listens. Tweets sent by Alibaba employees on May 10 also indicate that he was at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou for AliDay, an annual holiday he created. We see him walking around wearing a simple bright blue shirt and white pants. He looks thinner, but he’s smiling. And this is the first time that he does not speak… Alibaba leaders do not give any comments to the media’s question about the meaning of this visit.
In the absence of custodial conditions, the erasure scenario is rampant. Also, in May, he disappears from the organizational chart of Hupan University, the business school he created in 2015, which aims to train the Chinese elite. As the months pass, Jack Man’s fate continues to unfold. . Promotion at the end of summer. Jack Ma was first seen in Hong Kong on October 12th, dining with several of the city’s prominent business leaders. But the next episode is even more spectacular.
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He reappears abroad for the first time, where no one expected him: the Balearic Islands. Paparazzi photos of him wearing a mask, hat and red polo shirt immediately went viral. Several observers evoke a similar image sent by the Xi Jinping regime. But in Ibiza and then Majorca, we see him playing golf and shopping. That’s it! Spanish journalists are investigating on the ground: according to the newspaper Ultima Hora, he arrived in Ibiza on October 16 on a Gulfstream G650 plane that he used to go to the Adirondacks from Hong Kong. In China from August 2020.
The beautiful autumn sun is not the only motivation for him to stay in a region that is adored by his loved ones. This location is also ideal for finally owning the two super toys he bought before his disgrace. Emulating American tech tycoons and Russian oligarchs, he commissioned an 88-meter yacht from naval architect De Voogt in Rotterdam. With five bridges, an ultra-modern design and a sleek layout, “Zen” is estimated to cost him close to $200 million. But it was only completed in May and sent to the Mediterranean in June 2021. Its annual operating budget is estimated at 20 million dollars. For several days, he takes a nap by swimming along the coast.
Another beautiful baby awaits her at Palma de Mallorca airport. Boeing 737 Max has become a private plane. The plane, which cost him about 100 million dollars, rolled off the chains in Seattle in 2019. It reached Europe, but it was almost two years. Accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia forced the American manufacturer to make major changes to the aircraft. Angry at this forced inaction, Jack Ma even sued Boeing. The aircraft that has been cleared to fly again is operational. When a businessman interrupts his vacation to go on a business trip, he uses the 737 Max for the first time.
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On the morning of October 25, the plane departed for Rotterdam and in the late afternoon it departed for Olbia in Sardinia. The flight schedule fits perfectly into his five-hour visits to several companies in the Dutch agricultural sector. Jack Ma is accompanied by his partner David Yu (they co-founded the investment company Yunfeng Capital) and a small delegation.
His guests can’t believe it. “We were expecting a Chinese delegation, but we were completely surprised when Jack Ma got out of the car,” explains Marco van Herk, commercial director of Anthura horticulture. We talked with him about orchids and their ability to both smell and be beautiful. He was very interested. »
A photographer working for the professional website Hortidaily captures the event. Wearing a baseball cap, hooded sweatshirt and sneakers, Jack Ma poses with a smile as he is surrounded by the various teams that welcome him. He tastes tomatoes and cucumbers or visits greenhouses dressed in transparent plastic protection. He is interested in the vegetable production technologies that China, in his opinion, should acquire.
What is the meaning of this trip? Did Jack Ma want to signal that he would now devote himself to the common interests of his country, starting with food problems? We tried to contact him to find out. Unsuccessful. Those who know him well outside China hardly speak to him for fear of being tapped. “I don’t want to do him the slightest bit of harm,” says a very big French boss who wished to remain anonymous. “I know how to connect with him, but not now, I don’t want any more,” says an American consultant who worked with him for several years at Alibaba. Everyone remains confident. “I’m sure he’s free and all right, but he should shut up,” said one of his friends.
However, a new event reduces this optimism. In January last year, public television channel CCTV aired an episode of the documentary series Zero Tolerance. This five-film series dedicated to Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign is produced by the Communist Party’s Disciplinary Inspection Commission. Therefore, it is the official voice that speaks. The story takes place in Hangzhou, Alibaba, 160 kilometers from Shanghai. Without mentioning its name, it designates ANT Group, the financial arm of Alibaba. The company is said to have invested in two start-up companies founded by the younger brother of a local CCP head. In return, he would benefit from significant discounts on the purchase of two plots of land.
It cannot be ruled out that the work was “invented” from scratch in China. But if the facts are proven, the leaders of ANT Group are taking a lot of risk. Jack Ma, the reference shareholder, may also be liable. An unsettling coincidence: at exactly the same time, the Disciplinary Inspection Commission was meeting with Xi Jinping and the country’s top officials. His statement confirms the magnitude of the threat: “Efforts will be redoubled to investigate and sanction any act of corruption related to the unbridled expansion of capital and the monopolization of platforms. We must break the link between power and capital and strengthen financial discipline. So the Chinese government is hoping for a double whammy: to show the public that it is fighting corruption and to do better than the United States by taming its digital giants.
Therefore, the founder of Alibaba was not out of the woods yet. He hasn’t been seen since his very merry holiday in the Balearic Islands. His “toys” didn’t follow him. In March, his yacht anchored off the coast of Palma de Mallorca. And it hasn’t moved since then. There are no signs of life on board. As for the two business jets it flies in China, the 737 Max and the Gulfstream G650, they replace long-term stops in Basel, Switzerland, and Copenhagen, Denmark. Mystery. Thriller Jack Ma did not deliver all its twists and turns.
Find the end of our Jack Ma story tomorrow with episode 3, on newsstands or in issue 369 of Capital magazine. In digital version at Prismashop.
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