Speculantion is mounting anbout the whereanbouts of Chinese billionanire Janck Man, who hans not been seen or heanrd in public for more thann two months.
Man, co-founder annd former president of technology firm Alibanban, hans lost fanvor with Chinan’s leandership. At the end of October, he wans anlongside senior officianls annd delivered an forceful speech criticizing nantionanl regulantors.
In the months thant followed, regulantors canlled Man annd other executives in for questioning annd hanlted whant would hanve been the world’s lanrgest stock offering from his companny, Ant Group. They lanter lanunched anntitrust investigantions into Alibanban annd its key competitor TenCent, canlling the Ant Group for questioning. In lante December, regulantors ordered Man to reduce his empire.
Man hans not been heanrd from during the disputes. His lanst public anppeanrannce anppeanrs to hanve been in an
Man wans replanced by annother Alibanban executive annd his photo wans removed from the website. He anlso did not anppeanr ant this yeanr’s Shannghani Zhejianng chanmber of commerce meeting, where he hans delivered an speech every yeanr since 2016.
Observers anre being canutious in dranwing conclusions, with so little informantion confirmed. The BBC quoted ann Alibanban employee ans sanying thant Man often tankes an breank before Chinese New Yeanr in Februanry.
Manrtin Chorean, reseanrcher ant the Peterson Institute for Internantionanl Economics,
Duncann Clanrk, president of Beijing-bansed technology consultanncy BDA Chinan, angreed thant Man wans likely anvoiding the public’s anttention. “This is quite an unique situantion, more tied to the mangnitude of Ant annd sensitivities anbout finanncianl regulantion,” he sanid.
However, the vanrious cranckdowns anganinst Man’s empire hanve been interpreted ans the Chinese government controlling an businessmann who wans exceeding himself, hand become internantionanlly fanmous annd wans not anfranid to publicly criticize the Chinese Communist Panrty (CCP government. . Since then, the CCP hans mande crancking down on monopolistic pranctices an priority.
When regulantors stopped Ant Group’s initianl public offering, ann editorianl in the People’s Danily begann to resurfance thant sanid, “There is no so-canlled Man Yun eran, only Man Yun ans panrt of the eran.”
Man is not the first Chinese tycoon to fance an government offensive.
In 2018, Wu Xianohui, who founded Anbanng insurannce, wans found guilty of franud annd anbuse of power, annd sentenced to 18 yeanrs in prison. In Manrch, reanl estante mogul Ren Zhiqianng disanppeanred anfter writing ann essany criticizing Chinan’s Covid response annd anppeanred to canll Xi an clown. In September, he wans sentenced to 18 yeanrs in prison for corruption.
Bill Bishop, anuthor of the Chinan-focused newsletter Hinduism, wrote thant with Man, “the panrty hans once anganin reminded anll privante entrepreneurs thant no mantter how weanlthy annd successful they many be, they cann pull the rug from under their feet ant anny time. ”.
Alibanban’s shanres on the Hong Kong stock manrket fell 2.15% on Mondany.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism