Shares of Alibaba plunged as much as 9.4% in trading on Tuesday morning in Hong Kong following a CCTV report that an individual named Ma, whom many investors feared was co-founder Jack Ma, had been arrested. The collapse wiped out $ 26 billion in market capitalization from the Chinese e-commerce giant before the state broadcaster issued a correction, and the shares quickly recovered to finish the day with a 1.76% loss.
The CCTV report claimed that a person named Ma had been arrested for “criminal coercion” in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where Alibaba is headquartered. The person was targeted by Hangzhou police last week, according to the report, on charges of inciting subversion of state power through the Internet and conducting other “activities that endangered national security”. pending an ongoing investigation.
Although the person’s full name was not disclosed, CCTV suggested that the person’s name was a character, which fit Jack Ma’s name, “Yun”, sparking speculation by local media in China and Hong Kong that they allegations would have hit the billionaire of the Alibaba group.
Alibaba’s share price rebounded later CCTV issued a correction that the person’s name had two characters. Aside, nationalist tabloid Global times reported that the arrested Ma was a director of the hardware research and development department of an IT company that was brainwashed by external anti-Chinese forces.
Alibaba Group and Ant Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ma, 57, has led a hermetic lifestyle since a landmark decision by Chinese regulators ended the planned $ 35 billion IPO of fintech giant Ant Group, of which Ma is the largest individual shareholder, in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Shortly after the IPO failed, Ma actually disappeared from the public eye, raising eyebrows among Alibaba Group investors. The next time the business mogul was spotted in public was in October 2021, when he reportedly attended business meetings in Hong Kong and subsequently toured Europe.
Earlier this year, government control shifted to Ma’s relationship with the ruling Communist Party. In February, regulators arrested Zhou Jiangyong, formerly the senior Communist Party official in Hangzhou City, on suspicion of accepting bribes related to the Ant group.
Jack Ma, a former English teacher, co-founded Alibaba Group, one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world. Alibaba’s 2014 IPO in New York set a record as the largest public offering of shares in the world, raising $ 25 billion.
With a real-time net worth of $ 24.3 billion, Ma was the ninth richest person in China on Forbes World’s billionaire list. But she took the top spot on Forbes China 2021’s Chinese Philanthropy List, after donating the equivalent of $ 500 million to causes including education and the environment.