Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma Loses China’s Richest Person Title

Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is no longer listed as China’s richest person. Following increased regulatory measures, the billionaire dropped from his top spot on the Hurun Global Rich List.

The annual listing of top Chinese earners has featured Ma in its prized position for the previous two years. Now, after a flawless 2019 and 2020, he finds himself in fourth place, behind  bottled water maker Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding’s Pony Ma, and e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang.

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As per the rankings, Jack and his family saw their fortunes rise by 22% to 360 billion yuan. The jump is a dollar equalent of roughly $55,700,000,000. This rise from a year ago still wasn’t enough to reclaim past glory and left them trailing back at fourth place.

The recent headaches for Alibaba began after an ill-fated speech on October 24th, that saw Ma publicly slam China’s regulatory system. The outspoken founder quickly found his company under suspension just days before Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO was set to debut.

With his comments viewed as the starting point that sent regulators in the region to increase anti-trust scrutiny on the country’s tech companies, Alibaba took the brunt of the increased oversight and the heat for its start. In December, less than two months after his words, the market regulator began its official anti-trust probe into Alibaba.

Chinese regulations could have a major effect on Ant and have already begun to ask the tech giant to fold some of its businesses ventures into a financial holding company, which would then face regulation similar to more traditional financial firms.

Following the speech, Ma conspicuously left the public view. It was a change in direction for the normally lime-light loving billionaire. After a three month sabbatical caused widespread questions about his location, he returned with a 50 second video appearance.

China’s current richest man, Zhong, made his first appearance at the top spot with a fortune of 550 billion yuan ($85 billion), largely thanks to the share price performances of Nongfu Spring and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which he also controls.

For Ma, this means a possible force of seeing his companies driven to the arms of the same banks he has referred to as “pawn shops”. While his massive fortune is something that even the top 1% would envy, it’s easy to see his frustration. If he can weather the storm and make it through, 2022 could be his return to glory.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Financial Times

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