Ant Group, as per news agency Reuters report, is looking for ways for founder Jack Ma to divest his stake and give up control in the fintech firm. Ma owns only a 10% stake in Ant but exercises control via related entities, as per Ant’s IPO prospectus. Chinese regulators, in a meeting earlier, had hinted to the Ant’s officials that Ma’s exit could help them to avoid Beijing’s intense scrutiny of its business, said the report citing a source.
Tencent has been put on notice by the Chinese authorities. The conglomerate was censured by the local antitrust watchdog on Friday. Media reports suggest that the token fine was just a beginning, as Tencent is said to be the next in line for larger scrutiny after the clampdown on Ant Group. Ant and Tencent, reports said, will set an example by the authorities for other fintech players. Tencent, Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu together control over 40 financial licenses.
Jack Ma resurfaced after over two months out of public view while Chinese regulators ruined Ant’s $35 bn IPO, tightened regulations, ordered an overhaul and launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba. Ma participated in an online ceremony of Rural Teacher’s Initiative, his first after Oct 24 when he was last seen in public. While still unclear about where Ma was, Beijing pursued investigations into Ant and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Chinese tech billionaire and the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, had criticized financial regulators and state-run banks for hampering opportunities, angering the Chinese government. Thereafter, Ma was nowhere to be seen for two months. He also vanished from his own talent show, excusing it to be a schedule conflict. Ma received advises of staying in China till the anti-monopoly investigation was launched and also to scale back his Ant Group fintech company.
China’s Ant Group is considering selling its 30% stake, worth around $ 4.8bn, in Paytm amid tensions between the two Asian neighbours, said news agency Reuters. Financial details of the possible transaction were not known and the Alibaba-backed firm is yet to launch a formal sale process. Paytm was valued at about $16 bn during its latest fundraising a year ago. Both Ant and Paytm said that the information was incorrect.