China’s massive restructure of Jack Ma’s financial business kingdom will create smaller companies under the Alibaba Group Holding and also provide clarity for the future.
The overhaul is being carried out by the People’s Bank of China and brings Ma’s Ant Group under more strict regulatory oversight, making the financial technology firm act more like a bank.
At the heart of the issue has been the competitive disadvantage created because Ant Group is China’s biggest payments provider — more than 730 million monthly customers use its digital payments service Alipay.
The restructuring order forces Ant to sever ties between Alipay and Ant’s other businesses.
“This restructure effectively splits Ant into a few independent businesses to stop Alipay from being a super app capable of controlling the day to day lives of the Chinese people,” Lightstream Research analyst Oshadhi Kumarasiri said in a story from Reuters.
“We believe it will limit Ant’s growth prospects and also open up the market for competition.”
And this is not the first setback for Ma.
Ant Group’s record $37 billion IPO was scuttled by regulators last November as Beijing continued to closely monitor its booming internet companies.
Just last Friday, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, of which Ant is an affiliate, was fined $2.75 billion as an antitrust penalty.
New York-listed shares of Alibaba — whose future is far less uncertain now — were up 8% from $223 after Monday’s announcement, tracking a similar gain for its Hong Kong shares earlier in the day. As of Tuesday afternoon, the stock was still trading at $242.
As part of the restructuring, Ant said it would create a personal credit reporting company, which will provide better protection of personal information and shut down the chances of abusing consumer data.