After a regulatory crackdown, Ant Group’s billionaire founder Jack Ma will relinquish control of the Chinese fintech behemoth.
Since criticising China’s financial sector in 2020, the formerly flamboyant Mr. Ma has been hardly ever seen in public.
The planned stock market listing of Ant Group was abruptly cancelled in response to that criticism.
The primary online payment system in China, Alipay, is operated by Ant Group and has supplanted cash, checks, and credit cards.
Founder of the massive e-commerce site Alibaba and former English teacher Mr. Ma has direct and indirect ownership interests in Ant Group totalling more than 50%.
However, according to a statement from Ant Group, his control will only be slightly more than 6% following the modifications in the governance structure.
Ant’s planned £26 billion stock market IPO in November 2020—the largest in history—was abruptly postponed.
Chinese officials claimed “serious difficulties” with the firm’s regulation at the last minute.
Some commentators believed it to be a move by the Chinese government to bring down a large firm and an outspoken boss.
The regulatory action followed Mr. Ma’s assertion during a finance conference that traditional banks had a “pawn-shop mentality.”
Additionally, he praised the advantages of the digital banking system and emphasised that going forward, lending decisions should be made using data rather than collateral.
After the stock market IPO that was supposed to make Mr. Ma the richest man in China failed, he vanished for three months, sparking questions about his whereabouts.
Reports state that he ultimately reappeared, but since then, he has been out of the public eye.
According to the Reuters news agency, Ant Group is almost through with a two-year restructure that regulators forced, and Chinese officials are getting ready to fine the company more than $1bn.
The anticipated fine is a component of a comprehensive crackdown on China’s technology conglomerates that has reduced their worth by hundreds of billions of dollars and decreased their revenues and earnings over the previous two years.