Billionaire Jack Ma has given up control of Ant Group Co., China’s biggest fintech platform, which he helped create.
Ant adjusted its voting rights structure, according to an announcement on Saturday. The change involves giving 10 individuals — including the founder, management and employees — voting rights independently.
Jack Ma is giving up controlling rights of Ant Group Co., as the billionaire further retreats from his online empire following the country’s unprecedented tech crackdown.
The company will give 10 individuals, including the founder, management and staff, voting rights independently, effectively removing Ma’s voting control of Ant, according to an announcement on Saturday.
The adjustment will not change economic interests of any shareholders.Ma has mostly disappeared from public view since giving a speech that criticized regulators on the eve of the scuttled Ant listing in 2020. Many of his peers have relinquished their formal corporate roles and increased donations to charity to align with President Xi Jinping’s vision of achieving “common prosperity.”
Ant has since focused on overhauling its business operations to appease regulators. It’s ramped up its capital base for its consumer loan affiliate, moved to build firewalls in an ecosystem that once allowed it to direct traffic from payment platform Alipay, with a billion users, to services like wealth management and consumer lending.
The change of control could mean that Ant will have to wait longer for a much anticipated resumption of its initial public offering. Companies can’t list domestically on the country’s so-called A-share market if they have had a controller change in the past three years — or in the past two years, if listing on Shanghai’s STAR Market.
For Hong Kong’s stock market, this waiting period is one year.Ma still holds voting rights and economic interests in the company following the change. In a filing in July, affiliate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reiterated that Ma “intends to reduce and thereafter limit his direct and indirect economic interest in Ant Group over time” to a percentage that doesn’t exceed 8.8%.
The Chinese government’s multi-year crackdown has reined in breakneck growth for the entire internet sector, and left global investors feeling the shockwaves. It’s changed the playbook for the nation’s tech champions who once prioritized growth at all costs, introducing a new paradigm for the country’s private sector.