Princeling ties blamed for halt to Ant's IPO

Business | 18 Feb 2021

Staff reporter

One of the main reasons for the halting of Ant Group's initial public offering last year was its complex ownership structure, as well as the fact that the grandson of former president Jiang Zemin, as well as a son-in-law of a former president of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Jia Qinglin, hold substantial stakes in the company, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Beijing kicked off investigations into Ant's ownership structure before its cofounder Jack Ma Yun made a speech in Shanghai late October, in which he criticized the country's finance regulations, the Journal said, citing unnamed officials and government advisers.

One major Ant investor that caused concern for Beijing was Jiang Zhicheng, the grandson of the former paramount leader Jiang Zemin.

The 94-year-old Jiang was said to remain a key figure in politics, despite many of his allies being purged by President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.

The younger Jiang's Boyu Capital holds stakes in Ant Group through a private equity firm, Beijing Jingguan Investment Center, which was not revealed in Ant Group's prospectus.

Ma's connection with the younger Jiang dates back to at least 2012, when the Harvard-educated princeling helped negotiate a deal to buy out half of Yahoo's stake in Alibaba, according to the report. Boyu Capital, which is part of a joint consortium with China Investment Corporation, China Development Bank, and CITIC Group, received 5 percent of Alibaba's stake in return and made a profit two years later, when Ma's internet giant went public in the United States.

Another stakeholder linked to Jiang's network is the controller of Beijing Zhaode Investment Group and Jia's son-in-law, Li Botan.

Li invested in Ant Group through his company, Beijing Zhaode Investment Group.

Other shareholders include property tycoon Lu Zhiqiang, online gaming firm Giant Interactive's chairman Shi Yuzhu and the chairman of Fosun International (0656), Guo Guangchang, said the report.

Xi is not concerned about Ant Group's listing and the transfer of benefits to the second generation of those in power, but is merely worried the listing will widen the gap between the rich and the poor and render his poverty alleviation policies less effective, the report added.



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