Meituan founder donates $2.27 billion shares as charity grips Chinese billionaires

Wang Xing, CEO of Meituan-Dianping attends at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen

BEIJING (Reuters) – The founder of food delivery giant Meituan will donate shares worth about $2.27 billion to his personal charity, a stock exchange filing late on Thursday showed, making him the latest Chinese tech billionaire to make such a gesture.

The donation of shares by Chief Executive Wang Xing comes as Meituan and other so-called platform economy companies have come under the scrutiny of China’s anti-trust regulator, which announced a probe into Meituan in April.

On Thursday, the market regulator warned Meituan and several other “sharing economy” companies over opaque pricing practices.

“The changes regarding Wang Xing’s interest in shares of Meituan represent a personal asset allocation decision that was made out of philanthropic considerations,” the company said in a statement. “This decision does not reflect any changes in his dedication to Meituan’s business.”

In March, the founder of e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, Colin Huang, announced he was stepping down as chairman after last year giving away 2.37% of his shares, worth $1.85 billion.

Last month, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming announced he will step down as CEO of the TikTok owner.

“The timing is a bit sensitive,” said Xie Wen, a former Yahoo China president turned critic of the Chinese tech sector, adding that he does not believe there is one single reason behind such decisions.

“Wang is a person with a sense of social responsibility, according to my understanding of him,” he said.

Wang will convert 57.319 million class A shares into class B shares and transfer the class B shares into the Wang Xing Fund, which promotes education and scientific research.

In April, tech giant Tencent, which Reuters has reported faces an antitrust penalty, pledged to invest 50 billion yuan ($7.81 billion) in environmental and social initiatives.

($1 = 6.4040 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(This story refiles to correct name of company in paragraph 1 to Meituan from its former name Meituan Dianping.)

(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Tony Munroe, and Yingzhi Yang)