Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s absence from public view in the past two months has fueled speculation over his whereabouts amid a Chinese regulatory clampdown on his business empire.

Ma has not appeared in a public setting since a late October forum in Shanghai where he blasted China’s regulatory system in a speech that put him on a collision course with officials, resulting in the suspension of a $37 billion IPO of Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech arm.

Chinese regulators have focused on Ma’s businesses since his October speech, and have launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba.

On Friday, media outlets reported that Ma was replaced as a judge in the final episode in November of a game show for entrepreneurs.

The news about Ma’s absence from public view triggered speculation on Twitter. The social media platform however, is blocked in China, where sensitive topics are subject to censorship.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 2.15% on Monday.


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