ANN/THE STAR – Jack Ma has popped up in Australia, the latest stop on a months-long global jaunt and one that has particular emotional resonance for the billionaire Alibaba co-founder.
The entrepreneur was spotted at a hotel in Melbourne in recent days and was later confirmed to be spending time in the country, China’s Yicai media outlet cited anonymous sources as saying.
Snapshots of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd co-founder surfaced on Twitter, though Bloomberg News hasn’t verified their authenticity.
While his itinerary remains unclear, Ma was close to the Morley family, which in the 1980s played a major role in shaping his future when they invited the then-teenager to visit Newcastle, New South Wales.
Ma stayed in touch with the Morleys and in 2017 set up a USD20 million university scholarship fund in his late mentor Ken Morley’s name.
Ma has since late 2022 gradually resumed the globetrotting that once defined China’s best-known entrepreneur.
He spent time in Tokyo and the Japanese countryside before making his way to Thailand, where he toured foodie spots and reportedly took in a Muay Thai boxing match.
He turned up in Hong Kong last month to meet finance and tech executives, local media reported.
The former executive – among China’s most recognisable faces – has been on the move just as signs have emerged that Beijing is relenting on a campaign to curtail the influence and power of Internet giants.
In January, Ma ceded controlling rights to his Ant Group Co fintech empire, which many observers took as a signal that the punishing crackdown was nearing an end.