The billionaire founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, finally ceded control of Ant Groupthe Chinese techno-financial company whose historic IPO was stopped in 2020 by the Beijing authorities and which is in the process of restructuring, the Hong Kong daily reported this Saturday South China Morning Post.
The group announced in a statement this Saturday a readjustment in the structure of voting rights, diluting the power of founder Jack Ma to make the company moretransparent and diversified”.
With this step, deemed necessary in order to make its long-awaited initial public offering, Ant Group grants 10 people, including the founder, management and employees, independent voting rights.
After the restructuring, the main shareholders of Ant “independently exercise their voting rights”, leaving no one in direct or indirect control.
“No shareholder, alone or together with another shareholder, shall have the power to control the outcome of Ant’s general meetings,” or “appoint a majority to Ant’s board of directors” and “therefore…have control over Ant” , the statement read.
Ant Group, which was created as a subsidiary of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibabais the operator of alipayChina’s leading electronic payment platform.
Its long-awaited listing in Hong Kong in 2020, which was to be the largest operation of its kind in history, was cut short at the last moment by a decision by the Chinese authorities, who decided to increase their regulatory scrutiny over the technology sector by alleged monopolistic practices and threats to national security.
The move from Beijing came shortly after Ma publicly criticize the financial bureaucracy in the Asian giant and since then, the billionaire has chosen to keep a low profile and generally avoid public appearances.
Under pressure from regulators, Ant Group is in the process of distancing itself from Alibaba and to reorganize itself as an investment company that controls a series of subsidiaries in charge of different parts of its business.
A life outside China
Jack Ma dared to criticize China’s bureaucracy in 2020 but went low after authorities reacted by truncating the listing of Alibaba’s fintech subsidiary Ant Financial.
The Chinese tycoon, who was speculated to have been arrested last May, somewhat later denied, spent a vacation in Spain in 2021, according to the Hong Kong newspaper The Standardand last year he would have spent several months in Japan, according to Financial Times.
Beijing allowed the technology sector to grow without too many regulations for years, but in 2020 it began a campaign of scrutiny that has resulted in sanctions for several companies in the field.
Among them was Alibaba, which was hit with a hefty antitrust fine of 18.2 billion yuan ($2.818 billion), the largest of its kind in the country’s history.
(With information from EFE)
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