The founder and former boss of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, will cede control of fintech company Ant Group as part of a restructuring, the company announced on Saturday, as the communist regime multiplied the blows against large firms in the sector. Jack Ma, one of China’s most famous businessmen, was the symbol of the “self-made man” for a generation of Chinese technology moguls, with his atypical personal journey and his sense of showmanship.
A complex corporate structure
But the former English teacher withdrew from the public eye after Beijing blocked Ant Group’s proposed 2020 Hong Kong IPO following his scathing comments about government regulators. The company said in a statement on Saturday that it was adjusting its ownership structure so that “no shareholder, alone or jointly with other parties, has control of Ant Group.”
The statement exposed the company’s previous complex structure, which showed that Jack Ma “indirectly” controlled 53.46% of the shares. He will only hold 6.2% of the voting rights after the adjustment, according to information in the statement.
“This adjustment is being implemented to further strengthen the stability of our corporate structure and the sustainability of our long-term development.” Ten people – including the founder, management and staff – “will exercise their voting rights independently”, the company said. The adjustment will not change the economic interests of shareholders.
Record fine imposed by Beijing
Ant Group’s planned IPO would have been a world record at the time and its damaging delisting came as Jack Ma’s other business interests came under official scrutiny. Beijing also fined Alibaba a record $2.75 billion over alleged unfair practices.
In a sign that the noose may now be loosening, authorities said last month that Ant Group had obtained approval to raise 10.5 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) for its consumer credit arm. The company may soon increase its registered capital from eight billion yuan to 18.5 billion yuan, according to a notice issued on Dec. 30.
News of the approval sent shares of Alibaba soaring nearly 9% in the Hong Kong square, while other tech companies were also boosted by hopes that the crackdown on the sector could s ‘mitigate.