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Jack Ma's Alibaba climbs after the the billionaire gives up control of Ant Group

Phil Rosen   

Jack Ma's Alibaba climbs after the the billionaire gives up control of Ant Group
  • Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba climbed 8.7% Monday, marking its sixth trading session of gains.
  • The rally comes as billionaire Jack Ma gives up control of Ant Group, the fintech business empire he built decades prior.

Shares of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba jumped on Monday after cofounder Jack Ma gave up control of his fintech business Ant Group.

Hong Kong-listed shares climbed 8.7%, marking Alibaba's sixth consecutive trading session of gains. On the New York Stock Exchange, US-listed shares rallied about 4%.

Alibaba confirmed on Saturday a previous report by the Wall Street Journal that said Ma would cede control of Ant. While the billionaire did not hold an executive role at the company, he had controlled Ant via an entity in which he held the dominant position, per the Journal. But after a series of shareholding adjustments, he gave up most of his voting rights.

Ant, the owner of Alipay, has undergone a regulator-driven reorganization since Beijing nixed its plans for a $37 billion initial public offering in November 2020.

At the time, the Shanghai Stock Exchange said the company had "significant issues," and didn't meet the necessary "information disclosure requirements."

However, when regulators pulled the plug, it also followed Ma's public criticism of the Chinese government.

"Without risk, no innovation can happen in this world," he said at a conference in Shanghai in October 2020. The Monday after those comments, state officials summoned Ma and other Alibaba execs to a meeting in Beijing, and Ant's public offering was cancelled the next day.

Over the subsequent months, China launched a sweeping tech crackdown that involved new rules related to data, antitrust, and cybersecurity practices. State authorities also came down hard on other Chinese tech firms, including ride-hailing giant Didi.

For now, Ant has no plans for an IPO, telling Reuters that it instead has been "focusing on its business rectification and optimization." Meanwhile, Reuters reported in November that Chinese authorities are set to impose a more than $1 billion fine on the company.

As for Ma, he largely disappeared from the public's eye in 2020, and been seen only occasionally. Last week, he resurfaced in Thailand hours before Ant Group announced in a statement he was giving up control of the company. Local media reported that Ma was at a restaurant with Soopakij Chearavanont, the chair of the Charoen Pokphand Group.

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