Ant Group, the fintech business affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding, has added Laura Cha as a new independent director to its board as part of an executive reshuffle, as the group nears the end of a broad restructuring aimed at addressing government concerns. Cha, chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and a member of the Executive Council of the Hong Kong government, was listed as an independent director of Ant’s board as of Wednesday, according to information on the company’s website. Yang Xiaolei, an independent director of Hengfeng Bank and a former lawyer at an affiliate of Citic Group, China’s largest state-controlled conglomerate, has also been hired as a new independent director at Ant. Ant Group grants first dividends to shareholders after blocked IPO The appointments of Cha and Yang have increased the number of independent directors to four, accounting for 50 per cent of the board. Hao Quan, a board member at PC giant Lenovo’s parent company Legend Holdings Corp, and Chinese economist Huang Yiping, also serve as independent directors of Ant. Jiang Fang, a non-executive director on Ant’s board since August 2020 and an Alibaba veteran, is no longer on the list of directors. This is Ant’s first board restructuring since August 2020, when current Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong, former Alibaba CFO Maggie Wu and long-time Alibaba veteran Peng Lei, quit the board ahead of Ant’s planned initial public offering. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. The senior reshuffle comes as a state-encouraged overhaul of Ant nears completion and after China signalled an easing of a months-long crackdown on the tech sector. Last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made a rare comment on tech listings, and said the government would support platform and digital companies that want to go public in domestic and overseas capital markets. Ant Group adding 20 jobs in Singapore ahead of digital bank opening Ant Group, the world’s largest financial technology company, saw its planned US$34.5 billion dual IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai called off by regulators at the last minute after Beijing suddenly moved to toughen regulations in late 2020. Since then the company has undergone a restructuring aimed at addressing government concerns and restoring prospects for an IPO. As part of the restructuring, Ant Group’s lucrative consumer credit and microloan services, Huabei and Jiebei respectively, were ordered to merge with a state-backed bank. Earlier this year, Ant’s mutual aid platform Xianghubao ceased operation s amid Beijing’s concern of potential financial risks. The company has also divested some businesses in recent months to streamline its investment portfolio. In March, Chinese regulators hinted that Ant could be allowed to resume the IPO process , as long as rectifications to tackle “disorderly expansion” and anticompetitive behaviour would eliminate systematic risks to the country’s financial sector. The central bank and local government in Ant’s home province of Zhejiang said in the same month that China would allow “ controllable risks ” to spur fintech innovation.