Billionaire Jack Ma Gives Up Control of Chinese Fintech Firm Ant Group

Billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma will reportedly end an acting-in-concert pact with three senior executives who had given Ma a 53.46% share of the voting power in Fintech firm Ant Group.

Following the restructuring phase, the major shareholders of Ant Group will independently exercise their respective voting rights, which should leave no party in direct/indirect control, according to an update shared by the SCMP.

Ma will reportedly end an acting-in-concert pact with Ant’s Chairperson Eric Jing, former CEO Simon Hu, and Alibaba Group Holding professional Jiang Fang, which had earlier given Ma 53.46% of the voting power in the Fintech firm. This is according to a statement issued on Saturday (January 7, 2023).

After the restructuring is complete, the key shareholders “will independently exercise their voting rights”, Ant confirmed. They added that “no shareholder will, alone or jointly with another shareholder, have the power to control the outcome of Ant’s general meetings.” Furthermore, they may not “nominate the majority of Ant’s board of directors”, and “therefore … have control over Ant.”

Notably, Chinese business tycoon Jack Ma is expected to cede voting rights of the Ant Group as part of an extensive overhaul that came after a massive government crackdown. Ma has, for the most part, disappeared from public view after he had criticized the regulatory approach taken towards tech firms operating in Chinese markets.

According to local sources, Ma’s previous control had been more than 50% of voting rights but it will now be reduced to merely 6.2%.

As noted in the update, the adjustment is “being implemented to further enhance the stability of our corporate structure and sustainability of our long-term development.”

Ten individuals — including the founder, management and staff — will now be exercising their respective voting rights independently, the announcement confirmed.

It’s worth noting that Chinese regulators had suspended the firm’s initial public offering plans in Hong Kong back in 2020. The move came after Ma, during a speech at a summit in Shanghai, had alleged that financial regulators were stifling growth and innovation.

The restructuring now intends to bring the firm into line with the financial regulators’ guidelines.

Industry professionals have said that Ma giving up control may clear the way for the firm to again pursue its IPO, however,  the financial authorities’ requirements regarding these structural changes mean that Ant Group might have to wait a few more years before listing.

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