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Jack Ma Steps Down as Ant Group’s Head Honcho, Fintech World Wonders Who Will Take the Reigns

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Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Ant Group, is set to relinquish control of the Chinese fintech company following a regulatory crackdown. In a statement, Ant Group announced that after the restructuring, no single person will have overall control. Ma, who is known for his flamboyant personality and previously controlled over 50% of Ant Group through direct and indirect means, will now only hold just over 6% of the company according to the statement. Ant Group operates Alipay, the primary online payment system in China, and was planning to go public with a $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) in November 2020, which would have been the largest in the world. However, the IPO was abruptly halted at the last minute by Chinese authorities citing “major issues” with regulating the firm. Some analysts believe that the Chinese government’s move was an attempt to bring down a company that had become too powerful and a leader who had become too vocal. This followed Ma’s criticism of China’s financial sector in 2020 and his suggestion that traditional banks had a “pawn-shop mentality” while praising the merits of the digital banking system and stressing that future lending decisions should be based on data rather than collateral. Ma disappeared for three months following the cancellation of the IPO, leading to speculation about his whereabouts. He has since resurfaced but has avoided the spotlight. The restructuring of Ant Group is set to be completed in the coming months, and the company may face a fine of over $1 billion from Chinese authorities as part of a wider crackdown on technology giants in the country over the past two years.

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