Ant Group Co. is planning to turn itself into a financial holding company overseen by China’s central bank , responding to pressure to fall fully in line with financial regulations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Chinese regulators recently told Ant, which is controlled by billionaire Alibaba /zigman2/quotes/201948298/composite BABA +0.33% /zigman2/quotes/215112034/delayed HK:9988 +1.57% co-founder Jack Ma, to become a financial holding company in its entirety, subjecting it to more stringent capital requirements, the people said. Ant, in response, has submitted to authorities an outline of a restructuring plan, they said.
The plan represents a significant turnaround by a digital-payments juggernaut that has in recent years tried to shed its image as a financial-services provider and fashion itself as an internet-technology company, which helped it command lofty valuations. Before its blockbuster initial public offering was called off last November, Ant had been on track to go public at a valuation north of $300 billion, well above the market capitalizations of the world’s biggest banks.
Designating Ant in its entirety as a financial holding company wasn’t something earlier envisioned by the company’s executives and stakeholders.
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