Seven executives of Ant Financial have severed ties with the Alibaba Partnership, the body that elects the board of the e-commerce giant.
The moves, which follow a push by regulators in Beijing to split the two tech giants, were revealed when Alibaba’s annual report was released on Tuesday.
Alibaba Group has amended its partnership terms, which were created in 2010 and allowed a select group of people to nominate a majority of Alibaba’s board. The terms now allow only Alibaba employees to be part of the partnership.
Employees of Alibaba’s affiliates were no longer partners from May 31, Alibaba said in the filing.
Ant said in a statement the move was “part of our continuous efforts to enhance corporate governance”.
The seven Ant Group executives include chief executive Eric Jing, plus its chief technology officer and chief people officer. Two of Alibaba’s retired executives also left the partnership, reducing the number of Alibaba Partners to 29 from 38 in 2021.
Alibaba retains a 33% stake in Ant, which it spun off in 2011. Ant operates China’s ubiquitous mobile payment app Alipay, which has more than 1 billion users.
After a sweeping restructuring by Beijing derailed Ant’s $37 billion initial public offering in late 2020, the two companies have taken steps to set strict operational boundaries.
Ant has embarked on a restructuring plan that would see it become a financial holding company and reshuffled its board recently, with departures including Alibaba veteran Jiang Fang.
Separately, Alibaba said it will apply for a primary listing in Hong Kong, taking advantage of a rule change allowing high-tech Chinese firms with dual class shares to seek dual primary listings in Hong Kong.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard