Chinese billionaire Jack Ma spotted in Michelin starred Bangkok restaurant

Ma has kept a low profile since China’s regulatory crackdown on Alibaba and Ant Group in 2020

Jack Ma, co-founder of China's Alibaba Group. Reuters
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Billionaire co-founder of technology conglomerate Alibaba, Jack Ma, who has kept a low profile since China’s regulatory crackdown on his companies in late 2020, visited Michelin star Bangkok restaurant Jay Fai.

The street-side restaurant, named after its 77-year-old owner and head chef Jay Fai — whose real name is Supinya Junsuta — posted Mr Ma’s picture with Ms Fai on its Instagram handle.

“Incredibly humble, we are honoured to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai's,” the restaurant's Instagram post said.

Founded in the 1980s, Jay Fai serves mostly Thai cuisine and wok-cooked seafood dishes, and is popular with food enthusiasts.

Located on Mahachai Road in the Samran Rat neighbourhood of Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district, Jay Fai is known for its green-tiled walls, simple tables and stools for seating.

Founded in 1999, Hangzhou-headquartered Alibaba specialises in e-commerce, retail, FinTech (Ant Group) and technology.

In December 2020, Chinese regulators launched an anti-monopoly investigation into Alibaba.

Mr Ma, a former English teacher, has been absent from the public realm since the abrupt halt of Ant Group's planned $35 billion listing in 2020.

In November, the Financial Times reported that Mr Ma had been living in Central Tokyo with his family members for nearly six months.

Mr Ma’s stay in Japan included stints in hot spring and ski resorts in the countryside outside Tokyo and regular trips to the US and Israel, according to the newspaper, which is owned by the Japanese media company Nikkei.

Jack Ma visiting a Dutch flower grower in Bleiswijk, Netherlands, in October last year. Reuters

Alibaba and payments giant Ant are facing anti-trust scrutiny over risks to financial stability.

A 2010 offshoot of Alibaba, Ant was due to start trading on November 5, 2020, after raising at least $35 billion in an initial public offering that attracted more than $3 trillion in orders from retail investors in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Last month, however, Ant Group’s consumer finance unit received approval to more than double its registered capital, a sign of improvement towards resolving regulators’ concerns.

On December 30, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said it approved Ant’s request to raise the amount of registered capital for the consumer unit to 18.5 billion Chinese yuan ($2.7 billion) from eight billion yuan.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 6:01 PM
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