Ant Group’s founder Jack Ma will no longer control the Chinese fintech giant after the firm’s shareholders agreed to implement a series of adjustments that will see him give up most of his voting rights, the group said on Saturday.
The move marks another big development after a regulatory crackdown that scuppered Ant’s $37 billion IPO in late 2020 and led to a forced restructuring of the financial technology behemoth.
While Ma only owns a 10% stake in Ant, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK), he exercised control over the company through related entities, according to Ant’s IPO prospectus filed with the exchanges in 2020.
Hangzhou Yunbo, an investment vehicle for Ma, had control over two other entities that own a combined 50.5% stake of Ant, the prospectus showed.
Ant said that Ma and nine of its other major shareholders had agreed to no longer act in concert when exercising their voting rights, and would only vote independently.
Ma previously possessed more than 50% of voting rights at Ant but the changes will mean that his share falls to 6.2%, according to Reuters calculations.
Ant also said it would add a fifth independent director to its board so that independent directors will comprise a majority of the company’s board. It currently has eight board directors.
“As a result, there will no longer be a situation where a direct or indirect shareholder will have sole or joint control over Ant Group,” it said in its statement.