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7 Jan, 2023 13:22

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma steps further away from business

China’s fifth richest man will cede control of affiliated Ant Group, which owns the Alipay platform
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma steps further away from business

Jack Ma, the billionaire co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is giving up the controlling rights of affiliated company Ant Group, according to a statement on the latter’s website on Saturday.

The company said it will undergo an “adjustment of the upper-tier shareholding structure,” under which the ten largest shareholders, including Ma, have agreed to no longer exercise their voting rights in concert and will henceforth vote independently.

Ma currently indirectly controls the voting rights represented by 53.46% of Ant Group shares via Hangzhou Yunbo, an investment vehicle for Ma that controls two other entities. The change will effectively remove Ma’s control of the company, and leave him with a mere 6.2% of the voting rights, according to Bloomberg calculations.

The move is expected to make the shareholding structure of Ant Group more transparent and diversified, “which will facilitate the steady development of the company,” according to the company’s statement.

The news follows Beijing’s multi-year crackdown on both Alibaba and Ant, as well as a host of other Chinese tech giants, over violations of anti-monopoly legislation. The move is also seen as a further step away for Ma from the business empire he helped create. The magnate has largely disappeared from the public view over the past two years after criticizing Beijing’s conduct with tech giants.

Both Alibaba and Ant have faced penalties from Chinese regulators over the past two years. Alibaba was slapped with a record $2.8 billion fine for antitrust abuses.

Ant, which owns the popular digital-payment platform Alipay, has been forced to reorganize its operations and structure after Beijing called off its $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) in November 2020. Since then, regulators have been pressuring Ant to distance itself from both Alibaba and Ma and have been planning to turn it into a financial holding company regulated by China’s central bank.

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