Alibaba founder Jack Ma reappears- sources

Largely out of public view since a regulatory clampdown on his empire late last year - Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has recently been spotted meeting with business associates in Hong Kong, two sources tell Reuters.

Ma's recent visit to the Asian financial hub was his first in a year, a source revealed.

Ma has been keeping a low profile ever since Chinese regulators pulled the plug on what was to be the record setting $37 billion IPO for his Ant Financial group, seen by many as retaliation for a speech he gave last October, in which he criticized China's financial regulators.

Ever since then, speculation has swirled about his where-abouts as the camera-friendly, outspoken entrepreneur seemingly went underground with just a limited number of public appearances in mainland China.

He briefly resurfaced in January, speaking to a group of teachers by video, which eased concerns about his unusual absence from the limelight.

Since then, Ma made a rare visit to Alibaba's Hangzhou campus during the firm's annual "Ali Day" staff and family event in May, according to company sources.

In September, Alibaba said it would invest 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of President Xi Jinping wealth-sharing initiative known as "common prosperity".

Xi's government has been on a tear, cracking down on everything from China's fintech companies to the video gaming industry to tutoring services.

But it's Jack Ma's Alibaba and its tech rivals that that have bore the brunt of the crackdown.

Alibaba was fined a record $2.75 billion in April over monopoly violations.

Comments from Ma typically go through Alibaba. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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