Group leader Ant resigns ahead of restructuring
Simon Hu, CEO of Ant Group, has resigned as the fintech group prepares to embark on a major restructuring at the request of Chinese regulators.
Ant’s board “accepted Mr. Simon Hu’s resignation request for personal reasons,” a company spokesperson said. “We thank Simon for his efforts in our business.”
Ant Group chairman Eric Jing became chief executive with immediate effect, company says list of website managers.
Hu’s resignation follows the departure of Yin Ming, responsible for its insurance business, in January.
The two high-profile resignations come months after Chinese regulators halted Ant’s $ 37 billion public listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, which would have been the largest in the world.
Beijing regulators are now turning around. Financial regulators are rolling out measures to cover the fintech sector, which was previously relatively unchecked despite being a major source of consumer credit growth. Ant was responsible for arranging about a tenth of China’s consumer loans last year.
All this means that Ant Group, after its restructuring, could now face a ceiling of future growth and must rely more on public banks whose lending activities it seeks to gain market share.
Along with the withdrawal of Ant’s planned IPO, its founder and majority shareholder Jack Ma was called in for multiple meetings with regulators on issues ranging from “financial supervision, fair competition and protection of consumers ”.
The central bank has also pressured Ant to pass more consumer data, although the company says it does not have the required user consent to do so. The central bank has criticized large platforms such as Ant, criticizing the “inappropriate collection and control of data” by “the major internet platforms which have abused their market monopoly”.
Ma is now regularly flight to Beijing at the same time as regulators announce meetings with Ant, although they have no formal responsibility in the company. He has ditched his usual roster of high-profile events to make just one public appearance in the past five months.
Hu will take over charitable projects at Ant and its sister e-commerce platform, Alibaba, according to a person with first-hand knowledge of the situation.
Ant Group also released “Self-Regulatory Rules for Fintech Platforms” on Friday, stressing that it would improve credit risk controls and work to prevent funds from flowing into housing and equity markets, as part of the latest move to dovetail with Beijing’s efforts to contain credit risk.