China orders Alibaba founder Jack Ma to pare down fintech empire
China has escalated its campaign to rein in the vast tech empire controlled by Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba and one of the country’s richest people.
Authorities in Beijing, who had on Christmas Eve ordered an investigation into allegations of “monopolistic practices” by Ma’s online retail giant, have now ordered his financial technology company Ant Group to scale back its operations.
Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of China’s central bank, said Ant’s corporate governance was “not sound” and ordered it to “return to its origins” as a payment services provider.
Pan, who had summoned Ant representatives to a meeting with regulators in Beijing on Saturday, said Ant must “strictly rectify illegal credit, insurance and wealth management financial activities”. Ant divisions offering those services are the business’s fastest-growing and most profitable operations, analysts said.
He stopped short of calling for a full break-up of the Ant empire, but said Ant Group should set up a separate holding company to ensure regulatory compliance. Ma was advised by the Chinese government to stay in the country, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
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