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Jack Ma to cede control of China’s Ant Group

Jack Ma will cede control of Chinese fintech giant Ant Group, according to an announcement issued by the company.

Ma’s company said in a statement on Saturday it was adjusting its ownership structure so that “no shareholder, alone or jointly with other parties, will have control over Ant Group”.

Ant operates Alipay, the world’s largest digital payments platform, which boasts hundreds of millions of monthly users in China and beyond. It is also an affiliate of the Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group, which began as an e-commerce and retail company that Ma first started.

One of China’s most recognisable entrepreneurs, Ma once exemplified a generation of Chinese technology moguls with his rags-to-riches personal tale and penchant for public showmanship.

But the former English teacher has retreated from public view since Beijing torched Ant’s planned initial public offering in Hong Kong in 2020 following his comments about government regulators.

Laying out the firm’s previous complex structure, the announcement showed Ma indirectly controlled 53.46 percent of Ant’s shares and deemed him the company’s “control person”.

He will hold just 6.2 percent of the voting rights following the adjustment, based on information in the statement.

“The adjustment is being implemented to further enhance the stability of our corporate structure and sustainability of our long-term development,” the Ant statement said.

Ten individuals — including the founder, management and staff — will “exercise their voting rights independently”, it said.

Ma has maintained a lower profile since Ant’s failed IPO, punctuated by appearances at charity events and occasional sojourns overseas. He was in Thailand this week, Bloomberg News reported Saturday.

He has been reportedly living in Japan.

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