Fintech giant Ant Group has replaced its top helmsman amidst intensifying scrutiny from Chinese regulators.
Ant Group has confirmed that Hu Xiaoming (胡晓明) has resigned from the position of CEO, with chairman Eric Jing Xiandong (井贤栋) already replacing him, according to a report from National Business Daily.
Sources said that Hu’s resignation request has already been approved by the Ant Group board, and that it has “thanked Hu Xiaoming for his hard work and contribution to the company.”
In future Hu will instead be responsible for some of Ant Group’s environmental and charitable undertakings.
Hu Xiaoming, who obtained an EMBA from the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in 2010, was appointed executive director of Ant in September 2019, and CEO in December of the same year.
Hu first joined Alipay in June 2005, and during the period from November 2018 to December 2019 served as Ant Group president.
The change in leadership arrives during an extremely fraught period for Ant Group. Last year Chinese authorities shelved its proposed mammoth IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong that was originally scheduled for the start of November, as well as summoned its executives for disciplinary “regulatory discussions.”
Chinese authorities subsequently demanded that Ant Group return to its original focus on payments services, and convert into a financial holding group in order to facilitate regulatory scrutiny.
Ant Group has since been in “close contact” with Chinese regulators, as well as adopted a slew of measures to satisfy their demands.
On 12 March Ant publicly released a set of “digital finance platform self-disciplinary standards” that it had formulated, in the hope of “strengthening protection of the rights and interests of financial consumers, and creating more responsible digital finance platforms.”