JACK MA (picture), the co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is visiting research institutions in the Netherlands to further his interest in agriculture-related technology, South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.
Ma, who is traveling to Europe for the first time since a bruising Chinese government crackdown on his tech empire, was photographed visiting a number of institutes in the Netherlands, including aluminum extrusions and greenhouse roofs specialist BOAL Group, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people. He is undertaking the tour in his personal capacity, it said.
The 57-year-old billionaire will continue traveling in Europe to visit more companies and research centers involved in agricultural infrastructure and plant breeding, according to the report. Ma had visited Spain after a stop in Hong Kong, the Post said last week.
Ma was inspired by what he saw in Europe and believed that a combination of farming knowledge and Alibaba’s technologies would create “tremendous potential” for the modernization of agriculture in China, the Post said, adding that he wanted to dedicate his post-retirement days to philanthropy, rural education and pursue his interest in reviving China’s countryside.
Alibaba spokesmen declined to comment to the Post, saying Ma was no longer involved in the company’s daily operations.
China kicked off sweeping reforms of the private sector a year ago by pulling the plug on a planned initial public offering by Ant Group Co, an Alibaba affiliate also founded by Ma. That was followed by an antitrust probe of the e-commerce giant for alleged abuses of its market power. Ma, who typically kept a prominent profile, largely disappeared from public view in the months that followed.