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China: Jack Ma gives up control of fintech giant Ant Group

, January 9, 2023, 0 Comments

Chinese businessman Jack Ma is to cede voting rights at the Ant Group in an overhaul prompted by a government crackdown. Ma has largely disappeared from view after criticizing the regulation of tech companies in China.

jack-ma-ant-group-marketexpress-inWell-known Chinese enterpreneur Jack Ma is expected to relinquish most of his voting rights at the financial technology firm Ant Group as the company restructures in line with a regulatory crackdown.

A statement from the company on Saturday indicated that Ma’s previous control over more than 50% of voting rights would be reduced to 6.2%.

What did the company say?

The company said it was adjusting its ownership structure so that “no shareholder, alone or jointly with other parties, will have control over Ant Group.”

“The adjustment is being implemented to further enhance the stability of our corporate structure and sustainability of our long-term development,” the Ant statement said.

Ten people — including the founder, management and staff — will “exercise their voting rights independently”, it said.

Why has the overhaul taken place?

Beijing regulators scuppered the company’s massive planned initial public offering in Hong Kong in 2020 after Ma, in a speech at a summit in Shanghai, accused financial authorities of stifling growth.

The restructuring aims to bring the company into line with the financial watchdogs’ demands.

Some analysts say Ma’s relinquishing of control could clear the way for the company to revive its IPO, but Chinese financial regulations regarding such structural changes mean that the Ant Group will likely have to wait up to three years to list.

What is the Ant Group?

Ant, founded by Ma in 2014, operates Alipay, the world’s largest digital payments platform. The platform is used by hundreds of millions of people every month in China and elsewhere.

It is also involved in consumer lending and insurance products distribution,

The Ant Group is an affiliate company of the multinational technology company Alibaba Group, also founded by Ma, which operates the popular shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall. Alibaba was also hit with a record $2.75 billion (€2.58 billion) fine for alleged unfair practices under the regulatory crackdown.

Ma, a former English teacher, has kept a relatively low profile since the IPO was torched, with Thai media recently reporting his presence in Bangkok.

He has seen his fortune fall by around half to an estimated $25 billion in the ensuing two years.