Entrepreneur Jack Ma reportedly to cede control of Chinese financial tech giant Ant Group following years of reorganisation spurred by regulatory pressure
Entrepreneur Jack Ma is reportedly planning to relinquish control over Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group amidst an ongoing regulatory crackdown on the country’s largest tech firms.
The move is likely to further delay Ant Group’s plans for an initial public offering, which regulators derailed at the last minute in November 2020.
The suspension of that IPO kicked off a broad regulatory tightening within China’s technology industry that has affected areas ranging from Bitcoin mining to children’s online games to ride-hailing.
Didi Global, China’s leading ride-hailing company, was hit by regulatory sanctions shortly after its IPO in New York last year, and in May its shareholders approved a plan to delist from the exchange.
Ant Group’s IPO remains in limbo, but Ma’s plan to cede control is likely to entail a delay of at least one year and up to three years, depending on where it chooses to list.
On the Chinese mainland companies must wait up to three years to list after making changes to their controlling shareholder, while Hong Kong requires a year-long pause.
Following the aborted flotation, regulators forced Ant Group to restructure as a financial holding company regulated by China’s central bank.
As part of the reorganisation the group is looking to reduce its reliance on Ma, one of China’s highest-profile entrepreneurs, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.
Ma controls 50.2 percent of Ant Group’s shares through an entity in which he holds a dominant position and could cede some of his voting power to other Ant Group officials, the Journal reported.
Ant Group is one of China’s biggest financial firms, operating the Alipay service with more than one billion users, a massive investing platform and a large microlending business.
Shares in Ant Group parent company Alibaba fell on Friday in New York and Hong Kong after the US Securities and Exchange Commission said the company was at risk of being delisted amidst a dispute between the US and China over accounting rules.