The government of China is reportedly planning to nationalise Jack Ma’s Alibaba and the Ant Group amid speculations over Ma’s disappearance from public view in recent months.
The move, reported by Outlook, comes in the wake of China launching a probe into Ant Group.
Lately, Ant Group has been in the crosshairs of the Chinese government over a controversial statement delivered in October last year. In the statement, he had criticised the country’s financial regulators and said that it suppresses innovation.
In the statement, Ma had likened the country’s banks with those having a “pawnshop” mentality and had called for an inclusive and universal banking system that lends to small businesses and individuals on the basis of big data.
Addressing the Bund Summit in the eastern financial hub of Shanghai, Ma had told then of Ant Group’s dual listing: “It’s the first time that the pricing of such a big listing – the largest in human history – has been determined outside New York City.”
However, state regulators had soon pointed out how the company had utilised digital financial offerings such as Huabei to encourage debt building in the young and poor population.
In November, China halted Ant Group’s $37bn IPO.
China’s financial regulators summoned Ma and his top executives to a meeting, in which they were told that Ant’s online lending business would face tighter scrutiny.
According to media reports, Ma has not missing from public view since his controversial speech in October.
The move comes when China is looking to tighten reins on fintech giants.
Recently, a report said that the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, are planning to impose “special and innovative regulatory measures” on fintech giants including Alibaba.
The move, which is aimed at eliminating monopolistic practices and bolstering risk controls, the report said.
Meanwhile, recently, PBoC reportedly ordered online payments giant Ant Group to overhaul its businesses.
According to the report, the regulator mandated the company to shake up its consumer loans, insurance and wealth management operations and scale back to online payments. Ant was also asked to overhaul its credit rating business.