In what can be dubbed as the latest blow to country’s billionaire, Jack Ma, China on Sunday directed his financial-technology giant Ant Group to restructure its lending and other consumer finance operations, escalating a pressure campaign developing since the government abruptly halted the company’s plans for a record-breaking share listing last month, The Guardian reported
Regulators in Beijing summoned Ant executives on Saturday and instructed them to come up with a rectification plan and an implementation timetable of its business, including its credit policy, which is often cited as illegal by the authorities in the statement, insurance and wealth management services.
According to The Guardian, 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 original role as a payment services provider.
Ant Group on the other hand, released a statement saying it would establish a “rectification working group” and “fully implement requirements” sought by the regulator.
“We will enlarge the scope and magnitude of opening up for win-win collaboration, review and rectify our work in consumer rights protection, and comprehensively improve our business compliance and sense of social responsibility,” the company said
Meanwhile, the latest move by China is believed to be retaliation against Ma, who is revered as China’s greatest modern-day businessman, after he openly defied strict Chinese business regulations.
Alibaba’s, Ma’s other proprietary’s shares have lost more than a quarter of their value since 24 October, when Ma accused China’s financial regulators and state-owned banks of operating a “pawnshop” mentality at a high-profile summit in Shanghai.
Ant Group, which Ma is the largest shareholder of, is now the world-largest digital payments platform, claiming 731 million monthly users on the Alipay app.