The move comes nearly two years after the Ant Group’s $34 billion-plus IPO was scuttled by increased regulatory overview of tech companies by the Chinese government.
Ant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, has informed Chinese regulators of Ma’s move, which was demanded by the government, according to the report.
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Ant operates the world’s largest mobile payment app, Alipay—which has more than 1 billion users. In October 2020, Ant was set for what would have been the world’s largest IPO. However, Ma publicly criticized regulators in a speech which derailed the IPO and led to much more scrutiny on financial or operational dealings of tech companies by regulators that continues today.
Life without Ma
Ma’s ceding of power brings up important questions for the fintech giant moving forward.
In June, it was reported Beijing had given initial approval for Ant to move ahead with a potential redo of its IPO. However, Ma’s stepping away could push that back, as Chinese securities regulations require companies to wait three years after a change in control to publicly list, according to the report.
Ma’s move comes amid some signs that China’s regulatory crackdown could be easing. In March, Liu He, China’s vice premier, pushed for more market-friendly policies to support the economy.
Just this month, regulators finally finished their year-long investigation into ride-hailing titan Didi. That company went public on the New York Stock Exchange to much hoopla and fanfare—raising $4.4 billion. However, two days later regulators launched an investigation into the company, causing shares to plummet. Didi announced six months later it would delist.
What any easing of the regulatory crackdown could mean for Ant remains to be seen—especially after a leadership shakeup.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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