“Recently, my colleagues and I have been studying and thinking. We made a firmer resolution to devote ourselves to education philanthropy,” Ma said. “Working hard for rural revitalization and common prosperity is the responsibility for our generation of businessmen.”
It was “the perfect setting for Jack to reappear in the public spotlight,” Tang said. “The backdrop sees Jack in his roots as a humble school teacher versus being a haughty entrepreneur that doesn’t know his place. The whole scene allows him to show contriteness without being scripted.”
Ant, which is controlled by Ma and part-owned by Alibaba, confirmed the authenticity of the video but declined to comment further.
Ant had suffered a “considerable shock” after Beijing suspended its stock market listing, an event that was expected to value the company at over $300 billion, said James Anderson, a partner at Baillie Gifford, a significant investor in Alibaba. “It’s plain that there are less chances of it being extraordinarily profitable than there were before,” he told Bloomberg TV.
The big question facing investors now: to what degree will Beijing keep tightening the screws on Ant, Alibaba and its peers? The early evidence suggests regulators aren’t in a hurry to let up. Just a few hours after Ma’s reappearance, China’s central bank released draft rules to curb market concentration in online payments, potentially dealing another blow to Ant and rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The move is part of a wide-ranging campaign to rein in a generation of Chinese tech giants that Beijing views as wielding too much control over the world’s second-largest economy.
Despite the regulatory overhang, Alibaba bulls at firms including Amber Hill Capital Ltd. and Pegasus Fund Managers Ltd. said easing concerns over Ma’s status might be enough to lift shares of the e-commerce company back toward its record high in October. That would imply a gain of about 15% in the Hong Kong-listed shares from their close on Wednesday.
Alibaba slipped 2.2% at 9:31 a.m. local time on Thursday.
Mitchell Green, a founding partner of Lead Edge Capital who holds shares of Alibaba, expects Ma to focus primarily on charity work going forward, a shift that began a few years ago. Green said he’s still optimistic about the long-term prospects for both Alibaba and Ant. “Both are very important to China’s economy and its people,” he said.