Alibaba shares jumped more than 6% on Wednesday after billionaire founder Jack Ma was reportedly in Europe, fueling investor hopes that the worst of China’s regulatory crackdown on the internet giant could be over .
Ma has kept a low profile since mainland authorities raised what would have been a world record of $ 37 billion in initial public for the Alibaba Ant financial group last November.
The shock move triggered what has become a series of crackdowns by Chinese authorities against a host of tech and other industries deemed to have grown too powerful, unregulated or monopolistic.
Ma’s presence in Spain – for a “study tour of the agricultural industry and environmental technologies” – was reported by the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba.
The newspaper said the 57-year-old, who retired as chairman of Alibaba in 2019, was attending a series of business meetings in Europe.
He said he also stayed in Hong Kong for “private time” with his family before his overseas trip, citing an anonymous source familiar with Ma’s itinerary.
An Alibaba spokesperson declined to comment.
But the news pushed Alibaba shares higher, closing up 6.67% in Hong Kong on Wednesday. So far this month, the company’s share price has jumped 23% as hopes rise the company is now out of the niche with authorities in Beijing.
This sentiment also helped prop up the Hong Kong stock exchange, which has been hit by China’s regulatory crackdown in recent months.
The Hang Seng Index, one of the worst performers of the year, is now up 10% since closing its lowest level in five years on October 6.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the worst of Beijing’s crackdowns are behind us, especially in the tech sector as they were the first to suffer,” Jackson Wong, chief executive officer of Beijing, told Bloomberg News. ‘assets at Amber Hill Capital.
Alibaba fell from grace shortly after Ma gave a speech criticizing Chinese financial regulators.
Authorities pulled Ant’s IPO and conducted an antitrust investigation of Alibaba, eventually fining the company $ 2.75 billion.
Chinese authorities have also ordered Ant to undergo restructuring as a condition of relaunching its IPO.
Ma disappeared late last year but briefly resurfaced in January after a video clip showed him delivering a speech to rural teachers at an event hosted by his charity.
His trip to Spain is believed to be the first time he has traveled abroad since regulators chose Alibaba.