news-dateline”>(Bloomberg) — Jack Ma’s fortune is dwindling further as a planned repurchase of shares reveals a much reduced valuation for Ant Group Co., the payments business he co-founded.
The 58-year-old tycoon has a 9.9% stake that’s now estimated to be worth $4.1 billion less than almost a year ago, based on the share buyback, average analyst estimates and Fidelity Investments’ valuation, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Once China’s richest person, Ma could now be worth about $30 billion, less than half of his peak fortune prior to the derailing of the world’s biggest initial public offering in 2020, according to Bloomberg’s wealth index. Chinese authorities said on Friday they would wrap up a probe of Ant, with the company paying a fine of almost $1 billion.
The Jack Ma Foundation didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.
The financial technology firm has had to overhaul its business model, pulling back from sensitive sectors and easing up on competition with state-backed banks. Its valuation, envisioned at roughly $315 billion after the IPO, has dropped to about $78.5 billion with Ant’s proposed share buy back.
“Ant might need to rebuild its profit base as its 2022 earnings almost halved from 2020, despite the likely end of the regulatory probe, which could delay its plan to relaunch its IPO,” Francis Chan, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a note Monday. “We calculate its value at just $24-$60 billion.”
Ma, who is also co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., gave up controlling rights in Ant in January as he further retreats from his online empire following China’s unprecedented tech crackdown. In its 2022 annual report, Alibaba reiterated that Ma’s direct and indirect economic interest in Ant Group “will be reduced over time” to a percentage that doesn’t exceed 8.8%.
Read More: Fidelity Cuts Ant Group Valuation by Another 9% to $64 Billion
The former English teacher returned to his hometown of Hangzhou to visit a school in March, after spending years traveling overseas since the government cracked down on private sectors. He’s still China’s fifth-richest person, according to the Bloomberg index, which tracks the world’s 500 wealthiest people.
Fidelity trimmed its valuation estimate for Ant to about $63.8 billion as of the end of November. The fintech giant recorded a 56% slump in quarterly profit in the three months ended Dec. 31., a May regulatory filing shows.
Ma’s interest in Ant is based on his ownership in Hangzhou Junhan and Hangzhou Junao, two limited partnerships that mainly count Ant executives as shareholders, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the company’s 2020 IPO prospectus.
The buyback plan would allow Ant’s existing shareholders to sell as much as 7.6% of its equity interest, granting a way to cash out part of their investment. The individual limited partners of Junhan and Junao decided not to participate in the Ant buyback out of the long-term commitment to the company.
–With assistance from Jane Zhang and Pei Yi Mak.