- The chairman of Primavera Group, a private equity company that counts China’s Ant Group among its portfolio companies, claims that Jack Ma is safe and sound
- Since the end of October, Alibaba founder Jack Ma has not made a single public appearance
- Fred Hu’s statement indicates that, in the ongoing dispute between Jack Ma and the Chinese government, the Chinese billionaire is currently “laying low”
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the private equity firm Primavera Group, which includes China’s Ant Group among its portfolio companies, believes that Jack Ma, the founder of the financial technology giant, is “safe and sound” and he remains positive about the company.
Fred Hu’s comments come as Chinese authorities are investigating e-commerce company Alibaba and its subsidiary Ant after the latter’s initial public offering (IPO) was unexpectedly cancelled in November last year.
Ever since Ant’s IPO fiasco, Alibaba founder Jack Ma is missing, who also manages Ant, has not been seen in public since October last year.
On Wednesday, at the Reuters Next conference, Fred Hu without elaborating in an interview said, “I believe he is safe and sound. And Jack Ma remains an enduring example of a successful entrepreneurship.”
Primavera, headquartered in Hong Kong, became a participant in Ant’s $4.5 billion fundraising in 2016 and increased its stake two years later during the $14 billion round that estimated the company at $150 billion.
Hu, a former Greater China Chairman at Goldman Sachs, serves on the board of Ant as an independent non-executive director.
The CEO of Primavera Group, Hu said, “I do believe that the company (Ant) is highly successful innovator and has really single-handedly created fintech in China as we know it,” he further showed optimism about the company and said, “I remain optimistic about the future of this company.”
Hu refused to comment on the chances of the IPO being resurrected.
Since he publicly criticized the country’s regulatory framework in October for stifling progress, Chinese regulators have set about reining in Ma’s financial and e-commerce empires.
That set off a chain of events that culminated in November with the $37 billion IPO cancellation of Ant, which would have been the largest in the world. The regulator has also conducted anti-trust investigations into the allegedly monopolistic activities of Alibaba.
Hu said China’s latest anti-trust crackdown was in line with global trends, but it would not stifle the country’s innovation.
Fred Hu, a former Greater China Chairman at Goldman Sachs, said, “China is not an exception because we have the largest tech eco-system. It’s very natural for the government to address those questions.” Hu, who is currently CEO Primavera Group, added, “If there are some excesses or exploitations maybe they require adjustments. Make no mistake, innovation will continue to play important engine of economic growth.”
Reuters has stated that Ant is considering merging most of its online financial companies, including consumer loans, into a holding company that would be regulated like conventional financial firms.
Fred Hu, chairman of the private equity firm Primavera Group, said, “I believe the tech leaders in China and the investors all understand and feel comfortable, although in the short-term yes there may be some kind of uncertainty, but the basics and the stance remain intact.”
Hu founded Primavera in 2010 and also the company has been an avid investor in the consumer, technology and healthcare sectors of China. Its portfolio also includes Yum China Holdings and the Australian vitamin company Vitaco, in addition to Ant.
A filing was made in the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission last week in an initial public offering for a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), aims to raise $ 300 million.