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April 12, 2021, 8:11 a.m. EDT

Ant Group to fall under Chinese government oversight as Alibaba’s Jack Ma yields to regulators

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Jing Yang

Ant Group Co., the financial-technology giant controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, will apply to become a financial holding company overseen by China’s central bank, overhauling its business to adapt to a new era of tighter regulation for internet companies.

IPO Report (October 2020): Ant Group IPO: Five things to know about the Alibaba affiliate ahead of the largest offering in history

In a statement, the People’s Bank of China said Ant representatives were summoned to a meeting Monday with four regulatory agencies that also included the country’s banking, securities and foreign-exchange overseers. It said a “comprehensive, viable rectification plan” for Ant has been formulated under the regulators’ supervision over the past few months.

The directive follows an intense regulatory assault on Ma’s business empire that began with the  suspension of the company’s blockbuster initial public offering in November . Ant had been on track to sell more than $34 billion worth of stock and list on stock exchanges in Hong Kong and Shanghai, when  Beijing pulled the plug on the deal  after Ma criticized financial regulators in a public speech.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that  Ant was planning to fall fully in line with China’s financial regulations  by turning itself into a financial holding company, a relatively new designation for businesses that have substantial financial assets.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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