Seven executives of Ant Financial have severed ties with the Alibaba Partnership, the body that elects the e-commerce giant’s board of directors.
The moves, which follow a push by regulators in Beijing to split the two tech giants, were revealed when Alibaba’s annual report was released on Tuesday.
Alibaba Group has amended its terms of partnership, which were created in 2010 and allowed a select group of people to appoint a majority of Alibaba’s board of directors. The terms now allow only Alibaba employees to be part of the partnership.
Employees of Alibaba affiliates were no longer partners as of May 31, Alibaba said in the filing.
Ant said in a statement that the move was “part of our ongoing efforts to improve corporate governance.”
Ant Group’s seven executives include chief executive Eric Jing, in addition to its chief technology officer and chief people officer. Two of Alibaba’s retired executives also left the partnership, reducing the number of Alibaba partners to 29 from 38 in 2021.
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Alibaba maintains a 33% stake in Ant, which was spun off in 2011. Ant operates China’s ubiquitous mobile payment app Alipay, which has more than a billion users.
After a sweeping restructuring in Beijing derailed Ant’s $37 billion initial public offering in late 2020, the two companies have taken steps to establish tight operating boundaries.
Ant has embarked on a restructuring plan that would turn it into a financial holding company and reshuffled its board recently, with departures including Alibaba veteran Jiang Fang.
Separately, Alibaba said it will apply for a main listing in Hong Kongtaking advantage of a rule change that allows Chinese high-tech companies with dual-class shares to seek dual IPOs in Hong Kong.
Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
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Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd newspapers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before traveling around Southeast Asia in the late 1990s. He was senior editor of The Nation for over 17 years and has a family in Bangkok.