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Opinion

Ant Financial: Jack’s back

The founder of Ant Financial disappeared for three months after Chinese regulators nixed the firm’s record-breaking IPO. Despite some unwise comments about state banks, Jack Ma is now back, looking as puckish and cheery as ever.

Jack-Ma-cheery-wave-Reuters-960x535.png

It wasn’t the most verbally dextrous 60 seconds of Jack Ma’s life, but then it didn’t need to be.

This wasn’t Jack the mogul explaining to investors the inner workings of Alibaba or Ant Financial, the firms he founded, or Jack the globalist, hobnobbing with politicians and rockstars.

It wasn’t even Jack the balladeer, serenading an audience at the 2017 Computing Conference in Hangzhou with a lilting rendition of Unchained Melody.

No, this was a new version of the man with the most recognizable face in China after president Xi Jinping and the country’s deepest pockets – Forbes puts his fortune at $65.6 billion.

In a minute-long video published on Wednesday by Chinese state media, Ma sits on a simple settee wearing a white T-shirt under a blue sweater. His eyes look healthy, his body language unguarded, his demeanour chirpy.

In it, Ma praises the 100 teachers he just handed awards to via Zoom, as part of an annual prize-giving ceremony organized by the Jack Ma Foundation.

For the past three months, Ma has been the world’s most famous fugitive

The event usually takes place in the city of Sanya, but Covid again put the kibosh on it.


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