Jack Ma Makes Ant Offer to Placate Chinese Regulators

Jack Ma Makes Ant Offer to Placate Chinese Regulators

Trying to salvage his relationship with regulators in a Nov. 2 meeting, the Chinese billionaire said he was ready to do what the country needed

As Jack Ma was trying to salvage his relationship with Beijing in early November, the beleaguered Chinese billionaire offered to hand over parts of his financial-technology giant, Ant Group, to the Chinese government, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

“You can take any of the platforms Ant has, as long as the country needs it,” Mr. Ma, China’s richest man, proposed at an unusual sit-down with regulators, the people said.

The offer, not previously reported, appeared a mea culpa of sorts from Mr. Ma as he found himself face to face with officials from China’s central bank and agencies overseeing securities, banking and insurance. The Nov. 2 meeting took place a few days before Ant was supposed to go public, in what would have been the world’s biggest initial public offering.

Mr. Ma had angered Beijing by lashing out in a speech in October at President Xi Jinping’s signature campaign to control financial risks, saying it stifled innovation. Now, the regulators had called the meeting to voice their concerns about Ant’s business model.