Jack Ma's Ant Group has reached an agreement with Chinese regulators to thrash out a restructuring plan, news agencies have reported. The news comes amid heightened speculations over the last several weeks regarding the Communist China's falling out with the country's most celebrated business icon.
As per the purported agreement, the fintech giant will be turned into a financial holding company, Bloomberg reported, Reuters said in a media pick-up.
Under the plan, all of Ant's businesses will be transferred onto a holding company. This includes Ant's technology offerings in sectors like blockchain and food-delivery, the report said. The news agency said, citing people familiar with the matter, that an official announcement of the deal would come before February 11, when China's Lunar New Year holiday begins.
By the end of December last year, there were reports that the Chinese government was planning to nationalize Alibaba, Jack Ma's flagship company, as well as Ant Group. "Based on tip-offs received by the State Administration for Market Regulation in recent days, the administration will be investigating Alibaba ... for suspected monopolistic activities," the government had said.
The news frenzy was kicked off after China's investigators set up an office at the Alibaba headquarters in November. Apart from the e-commerce giant, investigators also probed social media giant Tencent and e-commerce company Meituan.
The news of the government's plan to enforce more curbs on Alibaba sent its stock spiraling down. Alibaba said at that time that it would cooperate with any investigation.
However, at the beginning of the new year, speculation that Jack Ma had gone missing, and that he may have been arrested by the government, came to the fore. However, in the third week of January, reports from China said Ma was seen in public after months. The news took the shares of the company up more than 8 per cent in Hong Kong.
The news of Ma's reappearance came after a video of his on Chinese social media appeared. In the video, Ma can be seen addressing rural teachers as part of one his charity foundation's initiatives, CNBC reported on Tuesday. The annual event is hosted to recognise the achievements of rural educators. "Jack Ma participated in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher Initiative event on January 20," a spokesperson for the Jack Ma Foundation was quoted as saying, IANS reported.