In 2020, superstar Chinese company Ant Group (the organization behind the region’s most successful online retail brand, Alibaba) was primed for a record-shattering $34 billion IPO. But after controversial statements by the company’s billionaire founder, Jack Ma, the Chinese government quashed the public launch. Ma departed from public view for several months, and even after returning to his position at the head of Ant Group, further government action against the company was anticipated.
Now, three years later, the long-awaited other shoe seems to have dropped. In a statement published by The Wall Street Journal, it was announced that Ma would no longer occupy a position at the head of the company, and any further coordination between shareowners would be prohibited by government regulation.
Understandably, many in the industry have identified Ma’s departure as part of an apparent retaliation against Ant Group by the Chinese government for the organization’s quick rise to global prominence. Managing Director of Orient Capital Research Andrew Collier decried the move as part of “the erosion of the most productive parts of the Chinese economy.”
“Jack Ma's departure from Ant Financial, a company he founded, shows the determination of the Chinese leadership to reduce the influence of large private investors," Collier said in an interview.