The Strategist

Jack Ma offers any of Ant Group platforms to Chinese authorities

12/21/2020 - 05:38

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is ready to share part of his business with the government if "the country needs it". Possible buyers could be state banks or other public sector investors.

Ben Hider
Ben Hider
Billionaire Jack Ma has offered Chinese authorities and regulators any part of fintech giant Ant Group. Ma made such an offer to the government in a confidential meeting with government officials on November 2, The Wall Street Journal found out. 

"You can take any of the platforms that Ant has if the country needs it," China's richest man suggested at the meeting with regulators, the newspaper said, citing interlocutors familiar with the matter. 

"Ant Group cannot confirm details of the meeting with regulators held on November 2, 2020, as it was confidential," a company spokesman told the newspaper. "The chances of nationalising at least part of the company are not zero," said a government adviser in Beijing.

According to interlocutors close to China's financial regulators, one option for going forward with Ant Group involves subjecting the company to strict capital regulations. That plan would see state banks or other state investors buy out the company to cover possible capital shortfalls if necessary. 

The November 2 meeting took place days before Ant's initial public offering, the WSJ notes, but did not save Jack Ma from banning the company's IPO. In October, Jack Ma angered Beijing by saying in one of his speeches that government policies to control financial risk were stifling innovation. Financial regulators responded by voicing their concerns about Ant's business model to him. Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the newspaper, personally ordered regulators, according to officials, to investigate the risks associated with Ant and shut down the IPO.