Why Jack Ma's Reappearance Isn't Enough To Calm Alibaba Investors




 

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) co-founder Jack Ma reappeared in public view on Wednesday sending the company's shares soaring 5.5% in New York but concerns persist about the Chinese company's frayed relationship with its government.

Investors are seeking more reassurance on the regulatory environment surrounding the e-commerce giant. Here's what they are saying:

Just Appearing Is Not Enough: William Huston, founder of Bay Street Capital Holdings, a California-based investment advisory firm said, "We all know that just because he showed up ... doesn't necessarily explain what is going on." Huston's firm has reduced its position in Alibaba from 8% of the portfolio to less than 1%, reported Reuters. 

See Also: Alibaba Shoots Up 8.5% As Jack Ma Makes First Public Appearance In Months

"When you don't know what to do in an evolving situation like this you can't use traditional securities analytics to reach decisions. We are standing aside and watching," said David Kotok, chief investment officer at Florida's Cumberland Advisors.

Jack Ma's Value: Investors also place value on the leadership that Ma provided to the Chinese conglomerate. Houston said, "One of our top criteria is leadership and we were investing in Alibaba because I really respect Jack Ma as a leader."

Alibaba Still In Hot Water: The reappearance of the company's founder does not mean Alibaba is in the clear.

"Alibaba is not out of the doghouse, but at least it's clear that the current anti-monopoly drive is not about punishing Jack Ma," said Zhang Fushen, Senior Analyst at Shanghai PD Fortune Asset Management, Al Jazeera reported.

See Also: The Ant Financial IPO Is Xi Jinping's Latest Battle With Big Business

Brock Silver, managing director at Kaiyuan Capital, a Hong Kong-based private-equity fund noted that while Ma's reappearance is a sign that his relationship with China's regulatory authorities has stabilized, it doesn't imply that "Ma's corporate empire is free from worry," Singapore's Straits Times newspaper reported.

"[Ma's] reappearance can only be a good thing. But it's unhelpful to speculate on the viability of an Ant Group listing at this point," said Wei Wei Chua, portfolio manager at Mirae Asset Global Investments Hong Kong, as per Straits Times. The investor was referring to the suspended mega IPO of Alibaba's fintech arm which fell through in November.

Price Action: Alibaba shares closed 5.5% higher at $265.49 on Wednesday and gained 0.1% in the after-hours session in New York.

Photo courtesy: World Economic Forum via Wikimedia

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