Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has withdrawn from Ant Group, the company he founded. In all likelihood, the withdrawal came under pressure from the dictatorship’s authorities, with whom Ma has been out of favor for several years.
Turbulent past of Ant Group
Ant Group has become one of the world’s largest financial companies under Jack Ma. It is behind the Alipay payment service, which is widely used in China. More than a billion people use it. Two years ago, Ant Group was supposed to go public, but regulators prevented that at the last minute. Ma also caused a stir by disappearing from the public eye after voicing criticism of the Chinese economic system. Again, pressure from the Chinese government was thought to be the primary motivation.
The withdrawal from Ant Group could clear the way for an initial public offering of the company. Without Ma at the helm, regulators are likely to have fewer problems with such corporate plans. Still, it should be kept in mind that policies toward fintech and technology companies in China have become much stricter in recent years. The future of the company therefore remains to be seen, even after Mas’ withdrawal.
Mas’ future is open
The future of Mas himself is also largely unclear. After disappearing from the public eye in 2020, he has rarely spoken out. He reportedly lived in Japan for a time last year. Most recently, he was spotted in Thailand. Ma remains the majority owner of Alibaba, which is also one of the most successful companies in China. The withdrawal from Ant Group is also interpreted as an attempt to bring this second successful company out of the line of fire of the Chinese government.