United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported that Jack Ma, the founder of the Chinese online giant Alibaba, has not been allowed to leave the country. The Chinese authorities are currently investigating how Alibaba’s Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial and Alipay, received IPO approval so rapidly. The IPO was originally set to be the largest IPO in the world, but was later called off unexpectedly. Alibaba was fined RMB 18.2 billion (around US$2.8 billion) by the Chinese government on April 10, because of its market monopoly tactics. Two days later, the Ant Group was ordered to reform. The current round of investigation is focusing on the relationship between Jack Ma and important government officials. Ma is banned from leaving China until the investigation concludes. This is the first sign that indicates the investigation is spreading into government agencies. One of the key targets for this new investigation is the Shanghai Stock Exchange STAR Market, officially known as the Shanghai Stock Exchange Science and Technology Innovation Board. It is a Chinese science and technology focused equities market established on July 22, 2019, with strong support from Chinese Communist Party Secretary General Xi Jinping. Jack Ma originally planned to list Ant Group there, and on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at the same time. This new round of investigation also includes some of China’s sovereign wealth funds.
Source: UDN, April 29, 2021