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Jack Ma is back in business

ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – Investor Jack Ma sparked speculation about his next endeavours after the billionaire seeded a small company to process and sell farming produce. This is his latest venture since retreating from the spotlight at the height of a industry crackdown.

Alibaba Group Holding co-founder set up ‘Hangzhou Ma’s Kitchen Food’ last week with an initial registered capital of CNY10 million, according to corporate database Tianyancha. The business involves the sale of packaged agricultural products, according to information on China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System.

Ma’s whereabouts and activities have been the topic of intense discussion since 2020, when he stepped away from the limelight after Beijing clamped down on his twin companies – Alibaba and Ant Group – as part of a broader campaign to contain an increasingly powerful private sector.

Ma, whose comments about China’s outmoded financial system helped trigger the crackdown, has since largely devoted his time to agricultural pursuits though his foundation. He joins a spate of well-known entrepreneurs from the likes of Tencent Holdings to Meituan who’ve devoted major sums towards the Communist Party’s “common prosperity” initiative.

President Xi Jinping’s administration has in recent years made elevating backward rural areas one of the cornerstones of Party efforts.

In March, Ma visited a school in Hangzhou in a public visit regarded as a sign he was beginning to resume public activities. He is mostly focused on projects in agriculture and education, another of his passions.

Few other details have emerged about his latest venture. Senior officials of his foundation hold top posts at the newly created firm, according to the South China Morning Post. An Alibaba representative directed Bloomberg’s request for comment to the Jack Ma Foundation, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Jack Ma’s whereabouts and activities have been the topic of intense discussion since 2020. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES