Jack Ma gives up control of Ant in exchange for a more transparent and diversified shareholder structure

January 10, 2023 6:03 am

On Saturday, Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba, announced that its shareholders had agreed to reshape the company's shareholding structure.

After the adjustment, the voting power of Jack Ma, the famous Chinese billionaire and founder of Alibaba, will drop to 6.2%. 

Before the restructuring, Ma owned a 10% stake in Ant but has about 53% of the company’s voting power through Hangzhou Yunbo and two other entities, according to an IPO prospectus filed with exchanges in 2020. 

The adjustment aims to lower Alibaba's influence and make Ant's shareholder structure more transparent and diversified. In a statement on Saturday, Ant said it would not result in any change in the financial interests of any shareholders.

Ma and nine other major Ant shareholders agreed to stop exercising their voting rights in concert and instead vote independently, ensuring that no shareholder would have “sole or joint control over Ant Group.”

Following the news, Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba jumped 7% on Monday.

Ma's relinquishment of control comes as Ant is making big progress in addressing regulatory concerns.

Since its massive IPO in 2020 was halted by regulators, Ant, in which Alibaba owns 33%, has been working on reorganizing its business to better comply with regulatory requirements. As part of the restructuring, the fintech company launched its consumer finance entity, Chongqing Ant Consumer Finance Co, in 2021. 

Earlier this month, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said it approved Ant’s request to increase the amount of registered capital for the consumer unit, to 18.5 billion yuan from 8 billion yuan. 

Under the latest registered capital expansion plan, Ant remains the largest shareholder, with 50% of the stake, but the new investor, the state-owned enterprise Hangzhou Financial Investment, has replaced Nanyang Commercial Bank as the second largest shareholder, holding 10% of the shares.