Photos circulating on mainland social media show Jack Ma Yun, founder of Alibaba, chatting and laughing with friends at a club - and fatter than before. Some hunks standing behind are considered to be his bodyguards.
The high-profile tycoon has seldom shown up in public after criticizing Chinese financial regulators at a business summit in Shanghai last October. In January, Ma skipped the final episode of an African TV program that he created. That fueled online speculation and rumors about his whereabouts.
In late January, Ma delivered a video speech to rural Chinese teachers. And earlier this month, Ma attended a virtual meeting of the Russian Geographical Society held by Russian President Vladimir Putin, without saying a word.
The central government suspended Ant Group's mega initial public offering last November. Reuters reported recently that Ant Group is considering ways for Ma to sell his stakes and give up control.
And Alibaba was fined a record 18.2 billion yuan (HK$21.74 billion) after a four-month antitrust probe.