Jack Ma, one of China’s most well-known businessmen, formerly served as a model for a generation of Chinese technology tycoons with his rags-to-riches story and love of public display.
Following a Communist party crackdown on the nation’s digital sector that singled out the flamboyant billionaire, Jack Ma will relinquish control of Chinese fintech giant Ant Group, the company stated.
But since Beijing scuttled Ant’s anticipated initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong in 2020 as a result of his scathing remarks about government regulators, the former English teacher has withdrawn from the public spotlight.
No shareholder, alone or in partnership with other parties, will have influence over Ant Group, according to a statement released by his company on Saturday.
The notice outlined the company’s previous complicated organisational structure and stated that Ant was the “control person” because Ma indirectly owned 53.46% of the shares.
According to the information in the statement, he will only possess 6.2% of the voting rights after the adjustment.
According to the Ant statement, the change is being made to further improve the stability of our company structure and the sustainability of our long-term development.
It stated that ten people, including the founder, management, and employees, would “exercise their voting rights independently.” The modification would not affect any shareholder’s financial interests.
At the time of its catastrophic withdrawal, Ant’s planned IPO would have set a new record for a listing, and Ma’s other business ventures were coming under increased government scrutiny.
Beijing also levied a record $2.75 billion punishment against Alibaba, the internet giant that Ma co-founded and which runs the well-known Chinese retail portals Taobao and Tmall, for suspected unfair business practises.
Authorities announced this month that Ant had obtained approval to raise 10.5 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) for its consumer finance arm, signalling a possible lessening of the official hold.
According to a notice released on December 30, the company will be permitted to increase its registered capital from 8 billion to 18.5 billion yuan at a China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission office in the south-western city of Chongqing.
Amid optimism that the industry restrictions might be relaxing, news of the approval sent Alibaba’s stock jumping about 9% in Hong Kong trading.
The third quarter loss recorded by Alibaba in its most recent earnings report from November was 20.6 billion yuan. For the first time, the firm did not disclose all sales data for the 2022 Singles Day shopping extravaganza.
Since Ant’s failed IPO, Ma has kept a lower profile, interspersed by appearances at charitable occasions and sporadic trips abroad. As Bloomberg noted on Saturday, he was in Thailand this week.