The president of private equity firm Primera Group, which counts China’s Ant Group among its portfolio companies, believes financial technology giant founder Jack Ma is “safe and strong”, and said he would like to see the company I remain optimistic
Fred Hu’s comments come as Chinese regulators are investigating e-commerce giant Alibaba and its affiliate Ant following the abrupt cancellation of the latter’s initial public offering (IPO) in November last year.
Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, who also controls Ant, has not been publicly seen since Ant’s IPO debacle.
“He is safe and sound. He is a permanent example of successful entrepreneurship,” Hu said in an interview at the Reuters Next Conference on Wednesday.
Hong-Kong’s Primera became Ant’s 2016 fundraising company of $ 4.5 billion, and two years later increased its investment during the $ 14 billion round and valued the firm at $ 150 billion.
Hu, former president of Greater China at Goldman Sachs, serves as an independent non-executive director on Ant’s board.
“I believe the company (ANT) is a highly successful innovator and a truly single-handed fintech in China as we know it,” he said. “I look forward to the future of this company.”
Hu declined to comment on the possibility of reviving the IPO.
Chinese regulators have spoken out about Ma’s re-establishing into financial and e-commerce empires because he publicly criticized the country’s regulatory system in October.
It set off a series of events in November, the largest in the world, with the cancellation of Ant’s $ 37 billion IPO. The regulator also launched an anti-trust investigation into Alibaba’s alleged monopoly practices.
Hu said China’s recent anti-trust crackdown was in line with global trends but would not affect innovation in the country.
“China is not an exception because we have the biggest technology eco-system. It is very natural for the government to address those questions. If there are some extras or abuses, they probably need adjustments,” Hu said.
“Make no mistake, innovation will continue to be an ever more important engine of economic growth,” he said.
Ant is considering incorporating its online financial businesses into a holding company, including consumer lending, which will be regulated like traditional financial firms, Reuters reported.
“I believe that technology leaders and investors in China all understand and feel comfortable, although there may be some kind of uncertainty in the short run, yes, the fundamentals and outlook remain intact,” Hu said.
Hu founded Primavera in 2010, and the firm has been an enthusiastic investor in China’s consumer, technology and healthcare sectors. Apart from Ant, its portfolio also includes Yum China Holdings and Australian vitamin firm Vitco.
Last week it asked the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $ 300 million in an initial public offering for a special-purpose-takeover company (SPAC).
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)