China billionaire gives up control of Ant Group


One of China’s richest men Jack Ma will give up control of the company he founded after a regulatory crackdown.

Mr Ma, who started online marketplace Alibaba, controlled more than 50 per cent of Ant Group which runs Alipay — the main online payment system in China.

But after a change announced by Ant Group, the formerly flamboyant entreprenuer will control just over 6 per cent.

It comes after the billionaire had seemingly gone to ground since publicly criticising China’s financial sector in 2020.

Once the changes come into effect, no shareholder will have control of the fintech group, according to the announcement.

“No shareholder will, alone or jointly with another shareholder, have the power to control the outcome of Ant Group’s general meetings,” said a company statement.

“No shareholder will have the power to nominate the majority of Ant Group’s board of directors. Therefore, no shareholder, alone or jointly with other parties, will have control over Ant Group.

“As a result of the Adjustment, the shareholding structure of Ant Group will be more transparent and diversified, which will facilitate the steady development of the Company.

“The Adjustment will not affect the day-to-day operations of Ant Group.

“We will continue to serve the real economy by leveraging digital technology, implementing our sustainable development strategy, optimizing our corporate governance, investing in cutting-edge technologies, and creating greater value for society.”

Formerly flamboyant Jack Ma has been keeping a low profle. Photo: Getty

Mr Ma was once China’s richest man but was still at number five in November 2022, according to Forbes, despite a drop in wealth to US$20.6 billion.

Mr Ma, a former English teacher, stepped down as Alibaba’s executive chairman in 2019 and was planning to give up control of Ant Group, Forbes reported.

In 2020, Ant Group’s stock market flotation, which would have been the world’s largest at US$31 billion, was torpedoed by China’s financial regulators.

“Though Ma is largely keeping out of the public eye, his 88-metre superyacht Zen was spotted in June docking off the Spanish island of Mallorca in 2021,” wrote Forbes.

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