As a continuing restructuring takes hold after Daniel Zhang’s appointment as Alibaba’s chairman, Alibaba Group Holding and Ant Financial, its FinTech affiliate, have announced an executive shuffle. Ant Financial, in particular, has named Simon Hu as its chief executive, taking the place of Eric Jing, Reuters reported Thursday (Dec. 19).
Hu came to Alibaba Group in 2005 and functioned as Ant Financial’s president since November of last year. He had positions in the small- to medium-sized enterprises (SME) loan and cloud computing divisions of Alibaba in the past. Jing will stay as Ant Financial’s executive chairman, which is a position he had held along with the title of CEO, and Hu will report to him.
The Ant Financial appointment comes as the division reportedly faces an initial public offering (IPO). (The division is said to handle hundreds of billions of yuan in web transactions through its Alipay payment service.)
Alibaba won regulatory approval in September to buy 33 percent of Ant Financial in exchange for rights to 37.5 percent of the profits of Alibaba. Analysts had reportedly conjectured that the restructuring marked a big step in the direction of a listing.
According to previous reports in November however, Douglas Feagin, president of the international business group at Ant Financial, said, “We don’t have any timetable for an IPO.” His comments reportedly echoed those of other company executives, including Jing.
Feagin reportedly added that the company was “very much focused on growing our business, and, frankly, there’s not a lot holding us back.” He said it was exploring other areas, like providing financial services to small and medium-sized businesses.
The company, which operates the Alipay service, plans to bolster its customer base to 2 billion over the decade to come, as well as “dramatically” grow its users outside China. As it stands, he noted that Ant has more than 1.2 billion users around the world.