Jack Ma disappears from his own talent show

Jack Ma disappears from his own talent show

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).”