Alibaba founder Jack Ma plans to give up control of China’s fintech giant Ant Group
Jack Ma, Chinese billionaire and founder of Alibaba, plans to give up control of financial technology giant Ant Group Co in an effort to move away from affiliate Alibaba Group Holding “after more than a year of extraordinary pressure from Chinese regulators,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The Journal added that Ant had informed officials of Ma’s intention as the firm prepares to become a financial holding company, regulated by China’s central bank.
Tensions between Ma and the Chinese Communist Party escalated last year after the billionaire criticized Chinese regulators and China’s banking system during a conference in October 2020, saying it was run by a “pawnshop” mentality.
In recent years, the Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba, has been subjected to sweeping Chinese government regulations and restructuring. In later 2020, Ant’s $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) was derailed by the country’s regulators. With Ma giving up control, that could revive Ant’s IPO and put it back on track.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma plans to give up control of Ant Group Co “to appease regulators following a lengthy crackdown,” Bloomberg news agency reported on Thursday.
Ma currently doesn’t hold any titles at the Ant Group but controls 50.52% of voting rights in the company. He could transfer some of his voting power to other Ant officials. In 2021, Reuters reported that Ant was exploring options for Ma to divest his stake in the fintech giant and give up control.
Ant and Alibaba did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Jack Ma founded Alibaba in April 199. The former English teacher stepped down on his 55th birthday after amassing a $41.8 billion fortune — a trove surpassed in Asia only by India’s Mukesh Ambani, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The persevering and resilient Ma overcame many obstacles and challenges to become one of China’s richest men. Ma received more than a dozen rejections — including from KFC — before being hired as an English teacher. Ma applied ten times to Harvard Business School (HBS) and got rejected.