Ant Group, the financial technology unit of Alibaba, updated its official website on Thursday to show two independent directors, Laura Cha and Yang Xiaolei. Fred Hu will no longer serve as an independent director for the company. The proportion of independent directors on the board has risen to 50% with the proportion of female directors exceeding one third. Furthermore, the number of shareholder representative directors has been reduced from 3 to 2, though Jiang Fang no longer serves on the board of directors of Ant Group.
According to public information, Laura Cha is currently chairing Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited, and is a member of the Executive Council of the Government of Hong Kong. She is also Vice Chairman of the International Advisory Council of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and a Director of the World Federation of Exchanges. She is a Non-Executive Director of Unilever plc; a Senior International Advisor of Foundation Assets Management Sweden AB and a member of Sotheby’s International Advisory Board.
Yang Xiaolei is currently an independent director of Hengfeng Bank and was a former lawyer at an affiliate of Citic Group, China’s largest state-controlled conglomerate. She used to be an attorney and partner at law firms King & Wood Mallesons and Jingtian & Gongcheng.
In addition, Fred Hu, founder of Primavera Capital Group, is no longer serving as an independent director of Ant Group. Ant Group’s board members also include two senior CTOs: Ni Xingjun, Chief Technology Officer at Ant Group, and Cheng Li, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba Group Holding Limited.
At present, the four independent directors of Ant Group include a well-known economist, a senior financial expert, a senior legal expert and a person with experience in international supervision. This combination is to ensure the professionalism of the board of directors. Moreover, 50% of the members of the board of directors are independent, which is also conducive to the board performing their duties on their own and should add to the long-term health and stable development of Ant Group.
In order to meet the requirements of future financial control supervision, Ant Group has taken various measures to improve its corporate governance. These measures include strengthening the role of the board of directors, expanding the scope of directors’ performance of duties, and adding several committess that deal with conflicts of interest, risk management and consumer rights protection, and privacy protection and data security. In the future, the number of independent directors will be increased further, and more than half of the independent directors in the board of directors will be gradually eased in.