China’s Ant Group, the fintech giant whose $37 billion initial public offering was derailed by risk-wary regulators days before it was due to list in November, will restructure as a financial holding company, the country’s central bank said on Monday.
The overhaul comes two days after e-commerce giant Alibaba, of which Ant is an affiliate, was hit with a $2.75 billion antitrust penalty as China tightens controls on the “platform economy.”
Under terms of the settlement, Ant will restructure as a financial holding company, a move that, along with other restrictions announced on Monday, is expected to curb its profitability and valuation.
“Ant Group attaches great importance to the seriousness of the rectification,” the company said in a statement, adding it planned to set up a personal credit reporting business and to fold its two flagship lending businesses into its consumer finance company.
The People’s Bank of China said that under a “comprehensive and feasible restructuring plan,” Ant would cut the “improper” linkage between payments service AliPay, virtual credit card business Jiebei and consumer loan unit Huabei.
A logo of Ant Group is pictured at the headquarters of the company, an affiliate of Alibaba, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 29, 2020.
Aly Song | Reuters
The central bank also asked Ant to break its “monopoly on information and strictly comply with the requirements of credit information business regulation.”
The company, part of the sprawling business empire founded by billionaire Jack Ma, agreed to improve corporate governance and “rectify illegal financial activities in credit, insurance and wealth management,” the central bank said.
The central bank said it had also asked Ant to control its leverage and product risks, and control the liquidity risk of its flagship fund products and to “actively lower” the size of its massive Yu’eBao money market fund.
The measures “set an example” for financial regulation of the platform economy,” the state-backed Economic Daily newspaper said in a Monday commentary.