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Ant Group execs step down as Alibaba partners as China’s regulatory scrutiny continues


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The Ant Group Co. headquarters in Hangzhou, China, on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Several Ant Group executives have stepped down as partners of affiliate company Alibaba as the two Chinese technology giants attempt to distance themselves from each other amid regulatory scrutiny from Beijing.

Seven executives including CEO and Chairman Eric Jing and Chief Technology Officer Xingjun Ni were no longer part of the Alibaba Partnership as of Mar. 31, according to the e-commerce giant’s annual report published Tuesday.

Simon Hu and Shuai Wang, two Alibaba executives, retired and are no longer part of the partnership.

The Alibaba Partnership was set up in 2010 as a way to preserve the culture envisioned by the company’s founders. It includes Alibaba founder Jack Ma as well as current chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang.

Alibaba recently changed the rules so that employees of affiliated companies can no longer be partners.

Ant Group is an affiliate of Alibaba in which the e-commerce giant owns 33%. Ant Group runs the Alipay mobile payments wallet in China.

But it has been trying to separate itself further from Alibaba since its initial public offering — which would have been the world’s biggest — was suspended in November 2020 after regulators flagged concerns.

An Ant Group spokesperson said the partnership changes “is part of our continuous efforts to enhance corporate governance.”

Since the halted IPO, Ant Group has had to carry out reforms under the scrutiny of China’s central bank. Ant Group is currently trying to restructure into a financial holding company.

Alibaba will also stop receiving some preferential terms as part of an agreement with Ant Group, according to the annual report. And the two companies will terminate an existing data sharing agreement.

Instead, they will negotiate terms of data sharing arrangements on a case-by-case basis and “as permitted by applicable laws and regulations,” according to the annual report.

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