(Yicai Global) Dec. 7 -- Gossip involving Zhao Wei and her husband and Jack Ma has once again boiled over on the internet.
After the closing ceremony of the World Internet Conference there on Dec. 5, Beijing News interviewed Jack Ma in Wuzhen in China's southeastern Zhejiang province.
"I've met Zhao no more than 10 times, when on at least five occasions we met at public benefit activities."
Zhao Wei is a famous Chinese female celebrity and her husband is a wealthy businessman. China Securities Regulatory Commission recently fined the couple CNY600,000 (USD90,000) and barred them from securities markets for five years over their use of a shell company to acquire Wanjia Culture Co. [SHA:600576]. The couple also must defend against an investor lawsuit arising over the deal.
The First time Ma and Zhao appeared together in a photo was on a July 2013 visit to Wang Lin, a master of the traditional qigong art of harnessing vital energy through rhythmic exercise and breathing.
Zhao shared her ink paintings on her Weibo account in January 2014, and posted photos of her drawing with Ma, as well as images of Ma's Chinese paintings. Ma and Zhao's husband Huang Youlong attended the press conference in June 2014 that announced Alibaba had become shareholders in China Evergrande Group [HK:3333]. Then at the end of 2014, Zhao and her husband surfaced on capital markets, becoming the second-largest shareholder of Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd. [HK:1060]. By taking a stake in the group, the couple's net worth and social status rose by HKD4 billion (USD512 million) overnight and earned them HKD1 billion after a successful buy-back.
Zhao has responded in A Closer Look into Jack Ma about her meeting Ma. Actually, Zhao did not give a detailed answer, but dismissed it as only "an ordinary dinner."
Zhao and Ma have met each other several times at charity events. Ma organized a private evening banquet In June 2014, to which he invited Bill Gates and other philanthropists and business leaders, among them Zhao's husband Huang.