Troubled billionaire is replaced as judge of ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’ competition
Jack Ma has disappeared as the public face of an African talent show he created, in a hint of the difficulties he is facing after a fall from grace in China.
Mr Ma was replaced as a judge in the final of Africa’s Business Heroes, a television contest for budding entrepreneurs, his photograph was removed from the judging webpage, and he was conspicuously left out of a promotional video.
The final took place in November, shortly after the Chinese tech billionaire made a candid speech criticising China’s regulators and its state-owned banks. In the wake of the speech, Mr Ma was dressed down by officials in Beijing and the $37bn initial public offering of his company Ant Group was suspended. He has not been seen in public since.
A spokesperson for Alibaba, which was founded by Mr Ma, said: “Due to a schedule conflict Mr Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa’s Business Heroes earlier this year (2020).”