|Mirae Asset Financial Group founder Park Hyeon-joo, left, and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma / Korea Times file|
By Park Jae-hyuk
Mirae Asset Financial Group founder Park Hyeon-joo has drawn attention from domestic investors, after he publicly gave support to Beijing's ongoing regulations on Ant Group and Jack Ma, the largest shareholder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's fintech arm.
The Korean financial mogul's pro-Chinese government stance is widely interpreted as a kind of strategic choice for his company's success in both countries, although he cited "social balance" as the official reason for his remarks.
Park, who is also serving as the global investment strategy officer (GISO) of Mirae Asset Daewoo, made the controversial remarks during a rare appearance on the brokerage firm's YouTube channel last week, in which he was sharing his investment philosophies with viewers.
In the second video clip uploaded a day after his YouTube appearance, the GISO said the decision by Chinese authorities to prevent Ant from going public last November was quite appropriate for the sake of the Chinese financial industry's long-term stability.
"In the long-term view, I think it is not a wise choice to allow a platform service provider to handle the financial business," he said. "Regardless of an individual's interests, I think it was a necessary measure for the entire Chinese society's long-term stability."
Chinese regulators are attempting to break up Ant to partially nationalize the fintech firm, citing an antitrust probe and governance reform as the primary reasons for their latest measures. Given the months-long crackdown came after Ma criticized the Chinese Communist Party's policies in an October speech, market participants regard this as an organized retaliatory measure against the billionaire.
Park took the opposite stance to them, saying the U.S. tech giants Amazon and Google are also subject to the separation between banking and industrial capital.
"Ma criticized China's fintech policies in the forum, but in fact, China is the country with the most alleviated fintech regulations in the world," he said.
The founder's opinions have caused some controversies among internet users and investors here, but his recent remarks may not be surprising at all to those who are aware of his keen interest in the Chinese market.
Last year during a meeting with his company's former and incumbent PR executives, Park emphasized the importance of investments in mainland China, despite the deepening political crisis in Hong Kong.
The financial firm ruled out the possibility of its Hong Kong subsidiary's relocation scenario by stressing it will keep an eye out for investment opportunities in both Hong Kong and mainland China.
In addition, some observers speculate that the Chinese authorities' regulations on Ant can benefit Mirae Asset which is in a strategic collaboration with Naver.
Ant is serving as the second-largest shareholder of KakaoPay through Alipay Singapore Holdings. KakaoPay failed to win preliminary approval for a MyData license last week because the Chinese regulators did not verify whether Ant was under any sanctions there.
KakaoPay's rival, Naver Financial, on the other hand, is expected to get the final approval for a license for its data-driven financial businesses. Mirae Asset is the second-largest shareholder of Naver's fintech arm.
Park also compared Naver to Ant in his YouTube appearance, saying Naver is just connecting technologies with finance, without doing financial business directly as Ant does.