Ant Group’s consumer finance unit in Chongqing bags operating approval

Ant Group's Hangzhou Headquarters. Source: Ant Group

Ant Group’s consumer finance unit has won approval to begin operating in Chongqing city, the local banking watchdog said on Thursday.

The approval comes nearly two months after Chinese regulators imposed a sweeping restructuring on Jack Ma’s fintech conglomerate, underscoring a step forward for the revamp of the group’s outstanding lucrative consumer loan business.

The unit, Chongqing Ant Consumer Finance Co Ltd, has a registered capital of 8 billion yuan ($1.25 billion), according to a statement from the Chongqing bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC).

Ant made a capital contribution of 4 billion yuan for a 50% stake, while Hong Kong-based Nanyang Commercial Bank holds a 15% stake while Taiwan’s Cathay United Bank holds 10%, it said.

Other co-founders include battery maker CATL and Alibaba-backed intelligent transport services firm China TransInfo Technology and China Huarong Asset Management Co.

“Under the guidance of regulators, Ant will work with other shareholders … to serve the needs of consumers, and to continue enhancing the quality of financial services and risk management capabilities,” Ant said in a statement to Reuters on Thursday.

In April, Chinese regulators asked Ant to conduct a sweeping business overhaul, including turning Ant itself into a financial holding firm and fold its two lucrative micro-loan businesses Jiebei and Huabei, into the new consumer finance firm.

Ant must complete the branding restructuring of Huabei and Jiebei within 6 months after its consumer finance firm starts to operate,” the Chinese business newspaper 21st Century Business Herald reported on Thursday, citing a regulator at the CBIRC.

“The two microloan entities of Ant should exit from the market in an orderly manner after the business restructuring,” it added.

The unit would need to further bolster its capital base as Ant prepares to fold in its lucrative micro-lending businesses to meet regulatory requirements on capital adequacy, Reuters reported in February.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.