A tersely worded official statement announcing the arrest of a person surnamed Ma in Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s home base has triggered concerns over Ma’s fate and erased US$26 million from stock market on Tuesday.
The announcement from Chinese state broadcaster CCTV says authorities in Hangzhou, headquarters for Alibaba, accused a person surnamed Ma of state subversion and using Internet to endanger national security.
The news sent Alibaba’s stocks tumbling. Its price fell by more than 9% before rebounding after CCTV amended the story to add that the accused Ma’s full name has three characters instead of two. Jack Ma’s Chinese name is Ma Yun.
Former editor in chief of state newspaper Global Times, Hu Xijin, also clarified in his Sina post that the accused person is not Jack Ma.
However, the fright highlighted the market’s jitters towards Jack Ma’s fate, who had largely disappeared from public view after Beijing’s clampdown on Ant Group before its expected US$37 billion IPO more than a year ago. It then triggered a nationwide crackdown on the country’s tech sector.
His personal fortune as a result was shaved by US$10 billion since the crackdown.
Aside from Ma’s entrepreneur endeavors and philanthropy, he’s heavily invested in Bordeaux and has been a promotor of wine inside Chinese market.
We take a look back at some of Jack Ma’s most memorable wine-related moves:
- February, 2016: Jack Ma buys Bordeaux winery Château de Sours.
- April, 2016: Jack Ma met with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi at Vinitaly. Ma at the time said Alibaba aims to promote Italian wine in China, and increase its market share from 6% to 60%. (That never happened. Italian wine market share in China stands around 10%.)
- May, 2016: Jack Ma buys another Bordeaux estate, Château Perenne for allegedly €16 million.
- September, 2016: Alibaba launched inaugural September 9 Global Wine and Spirits Festival to encourage alcoholic beverage sales online.
- May, 2019: At Vinexpo Bordeaux, Jack Ma charmed Bordelaise in his speech and said: “If you drink too much bad wine, it hurt your liver; if you drink too much good wine, it hurt your brain; but if you don’t drink wine, it breaks your heart.”
- September, 2019: Jack Ma retires from Alibaba and gifted every Alibaba employee a bottle of his wine. The wine also comes with Ma’s personal message that can be projected. He says: “When I was learning about winemaking, I realized something: work is like water and life is wine. Water will decide the quality of wine, but life should be lived like wine, not water, which is tasteless.”