Central bank approves finale of Jack Ma’s Ant Group reign.

Key Points:

  • The People’s Bank of China has approved the restructuring of Ant Group’s controlling stake, paving the way for its IPO.
  • Founder Jack Ma’s voting rights have been reduced to 6.21% from 53.46%.
  • The restructuring divides the voting rights among 10 individuals.

China’s central bank has given approval for Ant Group’s mobile payment app, Alipay, to have no controller, a crucial step for the fintech giant as it prepares for its IPO. The restructuring of Ant Group’s controlling stake means that founder Jack Ma’s voting rights have been significantly reduced from 53.46% to 6.21%. The decision by the People’s Bank of China is seen as a positive sign for Ant Group’s IPO, which was delayed in 2020 following a controversial speech by Ma. The voting rights previously held by Ma have been divided among Hangzhou Junhan Equity Investment and Hangzhou Junao Equity, two firms owned by a total of 10 individuals.

In January, when Ant Group announced the change in its shareholding structure, the company stated that it would be “more transparent and diversified” and would support the “steady development” of the company. The approval from the central bank is seen as a signal that the Chinese government is easing restrictions on big tech platforms, and it is expected to pave the way for Ant Group’s future listing. However, it is unlikely that the IPO will happen immediately.

Ant Group has been undergoing several restructuring efforts since 2021, following the cancellation of its planned dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The company has added an independent director to its board and certain executives have left the Alibaba Partnership, which includes the most powerful executives within the company. The mobile payments industry is also expected to face stricter regulations in the coming year, with new rules for non-banking payment institutions set to take effect in May.