Ant Group refutes rumor of Jack Ma's 'free' share transfer to Zhejiang government
Published: Jan 21, 2021 09:13 PM

Ant Group Photo: VCG

Ant Group refuted rumors about Jack Ma Yun transferring his 10-percent stake in Ant's controlling shareholder Alibaba Group for free to the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Finance, media reports said on Thursday, bringing more attention to the Alibaba founder who has just reemerged after being missing from public view for over two months. 

The transfer, supposedly intended to supplement the local social security fund, was "fake news," financial news website reported, citing Ant Group.

The finance department in East China's Zhejiang Province, where Alibaba's headquarters is located, has yet to comment on the alleged share transfer. 

The wording of the rumor doesn't seem to be in line with a previous statement by Ant explaining why Alibaba is not recognized as its controlling shareholder or one of its controlling shareholders. 

Less than two weeks after Ant submitted its listing prospectus to the Shanghai Stock Exchange for its planned IPO in the STAR Market, the company received the first enquiry from the bourse.

In its reply to the enquiry in early September, Ant said that Ma is recognized as the company's actual controller, while Alibaba doesn't control Ant - although Alibaba's indirect wholly owned subsidiary in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province holds a 32.65-percent stake in Ant.

Still, the reported denial focused more public attention on Ma, who appeared in a rural teacher-themed philanthropic event via video on Wednesday, in which the English teacher turned entrepreneur addressed 100 rural teachers from across the country.

His reappearance - after a regulatory interview involving him and Ant management on November 2 became the prelude to Ant's IPO suspension, an antitrust probe into Alibaba and a second regulatory talk with Ant - sent Alibaba shares higher in both Hong Kong and US trading on Wednesday.

Alibaba's shares in Hong Kong fell 2.42 percent on Thursday, while the Hang Seng Index edged down 0.12 percent. 

Ant was ordered to overhaul its key businesses as part of China's efforts to toughen fintech regulation and curb internet-based monopolies. 

Chen Yulu, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, disclosed last week that Ant has established a rectification working team and is formulating a timeframe for overhauling its services.

It remains unknown if and when Ant will resume its planned dual IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

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