Management Rights Change in Ant Group’s Employee Stock Ownership Platform, Jack Ma Remains Actual Controller

On Aug. 23, Jack Ma evenly transferred his 66% equity of Hangzhou Yunbo Investment Consulting Co., Ltd, the employee stock ownership platform of Ant Group, to Jing Xiandong, Hu Xiaoming and Jiang Fang, according to Chinese enterprise information query website TianYanCha. As the transfer completed, Jack Ma’s total equity reduced to 34% while Jing, Hu and Jiang now each holds 22%.

The three new shareholders are all directors of Ant Group. Jing Xiandong is chairman of the board of Ant Group, Hu Xiaoming is the executive director, and Jiang Fang is the newly-appointed non-executive director.

Such a major change came as no surprise since this Chinese TechFin unicorn announced its plans of a concurrent IPO on both Shanghai’s Stock Exchange’s STAR board and the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, as Pandaily reported earlier this month.

Back in 2013, Ant Group, the affiliate of Alibaba, promised all employees of Ant Group and Alibaba to have no less than 40% of its total stocks, becoming the first to propose such a shareholding ratio among all Chinese internet companies.

To make this happen, Ant Group established Hangzhou Junao Equity Investment Partnership (Limited Partnership) in 2012 and Hangzhou Junhan Equity Investment Partnership (Limited Partnership) in 2014 to hold the majority of its stocks, part of which are used to motivate employees and attract outstanding talents.

Moreover, Jack Ma established Hangzhou Yunbo Investment Consulting Co., Ltd as Ant Group’s employee stock ownership platform and he became the actual controller of the platform.

The change in management rights is Ant Group’s preparation for a more stable and sustainable management team before its IPO. However, the move will neither change the initial ownership structure nor the actual controller.

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Among the three new shareholders, Jing Xiaodong and Hu Xiaoming are members of the core management team of Ant Group and Jiang Fang is one of the early co-founders of Alibaba.