May 17, 2022

Founder of China’s Meituan Donates $2.3 Billion Stake

The founder of China’s Meituan has donated shares in the food-delivery giant worth more than $2 billion to his own philanthropic foundation, amid heightened scrutiny of the country’s tech sector.

Billionaire Wang Xing, who is also the company’s chief executive, transferred about 57.3 million shares to his foundation, stock-exchange filings late Thursday showed. Based on that day’s closing stock price of 307.40 Hong Kong dollars, or the equivalent of about $39.62, the donation was valued at about $2.3 billion.

The company and other Chinese tech giants have come under pressure from Chinese regulators, who are pushing the firms to compete fairly and to protect the interests of consumers and other stakeholders.

In April, China’s top commerce regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, fined

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

$2.8 billion. Soon after, nearly three dozen of China’s largest tech companies, including Meituan and e-commerce group

Pinduoduo Inc.,

publicly pledged that they would comply with the country’s antimonopoly laws.

Meituan is itself the subject of a probe from the commerce regulator, while Mr. Wang has also fanned online controversy. Last month he posted, and later deleted, an ancient poem that some internet users took as veiled criticism of China’s government. He said it was intended to refer to Meituan’s competitors.

Meituan said Mr. Wang had taken a personal asset-allocation decision for philanthropic reasons, and the funds would be used for education and scientific research. “This decision does not reflect any changes in his dedication to Meituan’s business,” it said in a statement.

The stake that Mr. Wang has donated equated to about 10% of his previous total holding in Meituan. Mr. Wang’s control over the company is greater than his economic stake because he holds supervoting shares in the business.

On the same day as the donation, Mr. Wang’s foundation transferred about 9.35 million shares—valued at about $371 million—to a third party for philanthropic reasons, a separate filing showed.

Other Chinese tech entrepreneurs have also embraced philanthropy. Last year, Pinduoduo founder

Colin Huang

and his founding team donated 2.37% of their company shares to a vehicle called the Starry Night Foundation.

In March of this year, Mr. Huang stepped down as chairman of Pinduoduo to pursue personal interests in life sciences. A day later, the Starry Night Foundation pledged to donate $100 million over three to five years to China’s Zhejiang University, where Mr. Huang studied for his undergraduate degree. The funds will support fundamental research in biomedical science, agriculture and food.

Write to Xie Yu at [email protected]

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