Tencent’s Pony Ma pledges more than $2bn to charity


The chairman of one of China’s largest internet companies is looking to join the ranks of the technology world’s big philanthropists Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates with a more than $2bn donation to charity.

Pony Ma, who is also founder and chief executive of Tencent Holdings, plans to cash in 100m company shares to make the donation to the Tencent Foundation, which gives money to healthcare, education and environmental protection in China, the company said on Monday.

Tencent shares in Hong Kong closed up 0.24 per cent at HK$165.7, making the donation worth about $2.1bn.

The company operates QQ and WeChat, two of China’s largest online and mobile chatting applications. The Shenzhen-based, Hong Kong-listed group has a market capitalisation of $185bn and owns entertainment and online gaming businesses, as well as a bank and other financial services.

Mr Ma has a net worth of about $20bn, according to Forbes but his success has often been overshadowed by Jack Ma of Alibaba, the ecommerce company. The Alibaba founder was reportedly worth more than $22bn. Alongside his chief financial officer, he said last year that he had set up a fund using share options worth about 2 per cent of the company’s equity, or about $3bn at the time of the announcement.

The Tencent chairman said in a statement: “After 10 years of exploration and participation in philanthropic activities, I increasingly feel a better way to continue giving back to the society is to do it over a longer term and in a more organised way.”

Tencent said its Foundation, which was established in 2007 and co-operates with other charities in China, was set to become one of the biggest charitable funds in the world.

The donation follows a long line of charitable activities from some of the world’s leading technology entrepreneurs.

In December, Mr Zuckerberg said he would donate 99 per cent of his and his wife’s Facebook shares, worth about $45bn, to philanthropic causes.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, has donated tens of billions of dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Source: Financial Times

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