Jack Ma is taking a weeks-long tour in Europe after largely disappearing from public view for almost two years, adding to signs that China’s government is easing pressure on the entrepreneur as he steps back from a business empire that had made him one of the country’s most powerful people.
The 57-year-old co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has popped up at restaurants in Austria, toured a university in the Netherlands to learn about sustainable agriculture and docked his yacht off the Spanish island of Mallorca, according to reporting by Bloomberg and local media.
While it’s not Ma’s first trip outside China since he criticized Communist Party officials in 2020 over regulation of his fintech giant Ant Group Co., it’s a stark change from the days when the billionaire was being advised by the government to not leave the country. In one sign of how skittish investors had been about the tycoon’s fate as recently as two months ago, Alibaba shares briefly lost $26 billion after a state media report that authorities had imposed curbs on a person surnamed Ma. Subsequent information made clear the report was referring to someone else.