Jack Ma’s wealth drops $3b as Alibaba shares slide on Ant Group’s IPO freeze

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Jack Ma was poised to become Asia’s richest person with Ant Group Co.’s initial public offering. Instead, his net worth tumbled almost $3 billion and both retail and institutional investors who were betting on a big first-day pop are in limbo.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s U.S.-traded shares slid 8.1% in New York, the most since January, 2015, after Ant said its listings in both Shanghai and Hong Kong have been suspended. The Hong Kong stock fell as much as 9.3% in early local trading.

Ma, a 56-year-old former English teacher who co-founded Alibaba with $60,000 and turned it into China’s largest e-commerce company, would have leaped up the wealth rankings with Ant’s planned $34.5 billion share sale. At the IPO price, his stake was worth $27.4 billion.

The stock sale was the most anticipated in years, attracting at least $3 trillion in orders for its dual listing. The stampede for shares had fueled predictions of a big first-day jump and sparked a frenzy among individual investors in China clamoring for a piece. The IPO would also have boosted the fortunes of a group of early investors and employees, with more than a dozen other people slated to become billionaires.

Ma owns 4.2% of Alibaba, which holds about a third of the fintech company that was expected to begin trading on Thursday. The Shanghai stock exchange suspended Ant’s listing after Ma was called in for “supervisory interviews” by related agencies, it said in a statement Tuesday. Soon after, Ant said the Hong Kong offering was frozen.

Even with Tuesday’s drop, Ma still has a fortune of about $58 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ant’s other wealthy backers include Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, the family behind a French supermarket giant, the son of a Taiwanese real estate billionaire and Chinese retail tycoon Shen Guojun.

Ant, which has granted staff share-based awards since 2014, was poised to become a huge creator of wealth, with at least 18 people becoming billionaires. Lucy Peng, a director at the payments giant through August and the biggest individual Ant owner after Ma, would have had a fortune of about $5 billion, while Chairman Eric Jing’s stake was worth $3.1 billion at the IPO price. Along with Peng, six other female leaders would have reached billionaire status.

Bloomberg

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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).

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

  • 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.