Fintech giant, Ant Group’s founder Jack Ma will no longer control the Chinese fintech firm after the firm’s shareholders agreed to implement a series of adjustments that will see him give up most of his voting rights, the group said on Saturday.
The move marks another big development after a regulatory crackdown that scuppered Ant’s $37 billion IPO in late 2020 and led to a forced restructuring of the financial technology behemoth.
According to Managing Director, Orient Capital Research, Hong Kong, Andrew Collier: “Jack Ma’s departure from Ant, a company he founded, shows the determination of the Chinese leadership to reduce the influence of large private investors. This trend will continue the erosion of the most productive parts of the Chinese economy.
“Despite official comments, Ant posed little risk to the financial system and was effective in arranging loans for small businesses, one of the main drivers of economic growth.”
Also speaking on the development, Chairman of Investment Advisory Firm BDA, Beijing, Duncan Clark said: “Yes, it’s obviously significant if he is no longer the controlling shareholder. This in theory should pave the way for an IPO assuming the other key issue – oversight/ownership of data – is also resolved.
“With the Chinese economy in a very febrile state, the government is looking to signal its commitment to growth, and the tech/private sectors are key to that as we know. At least Ant investors can (now) have some timetable for an exit after a long period of uncertainty.”
Partner and Head of Greater China Practice at Law firm, Wilson Sonsini, Hong Kong, Weiheng Chen, opined: “If these voting arrangement changes are deemed as a change-of-control event under the A share and/or Hong Kong listing rules, Ant Group’s IPO process could be further delayed.”
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