Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Ant Group, is to cede control of the Chinese fintech company following a regulatory crackdown.
Ant Group, which runs Alipay, the main online payment system in China, will no longer have a single person in overall control of the company following the change.
Ma, who also founded the e-commerce giant Alibaba, previously controlled more than 50% of Ant Group, but hasn’t been seen in public often since he criticized China’s financial sector in 2020. After the changes to Ant Group’s structure, he will control just over 6% of the company, according to a statement.
Ant was set to go public in November 2020 at a reported valuation of $26 billion. But the IPO, which was set to be the world’s largest, was canceled at the last minute, as Chinese regulators cited major issues over how the company was overseen.
That intervention came not long after Ma accused traditional banks in China of having a “pawn shop mentality,” and some saw the canceling of the IPO as an attempt by the Chinese government to keep the company and its founder in check.
Ma disappeared for three months from public life following the collapse of the IPO. He eventually reappeared but has kept himself out of the spotlight since.
On Monday, shares in listed companies that have Ant Group as a major shareholder rose, following the announcement Ma would give up control of the firm. Analysts believe the overhaul marks the end of the regulatory crackdown which followed the canceling of the Ant Group IPO.
Alibaba, which is listed in Hong Kong, jumped 7%, while shares in Longshine Technology, Jilin Zhengyuan, Shanghai Golden Bridge Infotech, Orbbec and others all enjoyed a bump.