Xiaomi Co-Founder Donates $2.2 Billion of Shares to Charity

Xiaomi Corp. co-founder Lei Jun donated $2.2 billion of shares in the smartphone maker to charity, joining other technology company chieftains in giving to philanthropy amid increased scrutiny on the industry.

Lei on July 13 donated 616 million Class B shares to the Xiaomi Foundation and the Lei Jun Foundation, according to filings to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The shares are worth HK$17.4 billion ($2.2 billion), based on Friday’s closing price.

The billionaire entrepreneur, whose net worth is about $25.7 billion, joins the likes of ByteDance Ltd.’s Zhang Yiming and Meituan’s Wang Xing in giving away parts of their fortune to charitable causes. Scrutiny over technology companies and the inordinate wealth they have created for their founders have increased in recent months, as China cracks down on its internet giants and their sway over everyday life in China. Beijing is now zeroing in on the vast amounts of data they’ve collected from activities like online shopping to ride-hailing and online payments.

Xiaomi’s stock jumped 4.8% in Hong Kong trading Friday, the best performer on Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index. The company overtook Apple Inc. as the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker in the second quarter after increasing shipments by 83%, Canalys said.

In a letter marking the milestone on Friday, Lei thanked employees for their efforts and said the No. 2 ranking brings greater challenges and responsibilities to the 11-year-old firm. Calling it a “key strategic victory”, Lei wrote Xiaomi needs “to quickly consolidate the position” to compete against the world’s most innovative companies.

Lei’s firm has so far been relatively unscathed in China’s tech crackdown, which has seen Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. pull its initial public offering and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. pay a record $2.8 billion fine. Food-delivery leader Meituan, whose founder Wang donated a $2.3 billion stake in the firm in June, is also under an antitrust probe, while Didi Global Inc., which went public last month, is currently facing a cybersecurity investigation.

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