Chinese Entrepreneur Jack Ma Reduces Voting Rights Stake In Ant Group, Further Diminishing His Influence

by Mary Wilson

Former China high-flyer Jack Ma’s influence is being further cut, as the Ant Group company he cofounded said he is reducing his voting rights at the financial technology firm as it restructures in line with a regulatory crackdown.

An Ant Group statement indicated that Ma’s previous control over more than 50% of voting rights would be reduced to 6.2%.

Ant, founded by Ma in 2014, operates Alipay, the world’s largest digital payments platform. The platform is used by hundreds of millions of people every month in China and elsewhere.  

It is also involved in consumer lending and insurance products distribution.

The Ant Group is an affiliate company of the multinational technology company Alibaba Group, also founded by Ma, which operates the popular shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall. 

Ma cofounded Alibaba in 1999, and advanced its reach with the founding of subsidiary the Ant Group in 2014. He built the e-commerce company into a $454B empire, transforming the way Chinese people shop. In the process, Ma became one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth of nearly $42B, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

Ma stepped down as chairman of Alibaba Group in 2019.

Alibaba’s sprawling operations penetrated Hollywood in recent years, taking stakes in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners in 2016 and then STX in 2019. It helped bring films like Green Book to Chinese audiences.

The Ant Group company said it was adjusting its ownership structure so that “no shareholder, alone or jointly with other parties, will have control over Ant Group.”

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

Beijing regulators halted a planned Ant Group IPO in 2020 after Ma, in a speech at a summit in Shanghai, accused financial authorities of stifling growth.

Ma has been extremely low profile since the IPO was stopped.

He has seen his fortune fall by around half to an estimated $25 billion in the ensuing two years.

Alibaba Pictures Group is a Chinese film company subsidiary of the Alibaba Group. By April 2015, it was the largest Chinese film company by worth, with a market value of US$8.77 billion .

2015 saw Alibaba Pictures’ first investment in US cinema with their financial support of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Alibaba Pictures partnered with STX to bring out the film Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year in 2019.