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NOVEMBER 3, 2020, 4:45 PM China slams the brakes on Ant Group's $37 billion listing Julie Zhu, Meg Shen, Greg Roumeliotis HONG KONG/NEW YORK Empty NOVEMBER 3, 2020, 4:45 PM China slams the brakes on Ant Group's $37 billion listing Julie Zhu, Meg Shen, Greg Roumeliotis HONG KONG/NEW YORK

في الثلاثاء 3 نوفمبر 2020 - 23:22
NOVEMBER 3, 2020, 4:45 PM
China slams the brakes on Ant Group's $37 billion listing
Julie Zhu, Meg Shen, Greg Roumeliotis
HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) - China suspended Ant Group’s $37 billion listing on Tuesday, thwarting the world’s largest stock market debut with just days to go in a dramatic blow to the financial technology firm founded by billionaire Jack Ma.

The Shanghai stock exchange said it had suspended the company's initial public offering (IPO) on its tech-focused STAR Market, prompting Ant (6688.HK) (688688.SS) to also freeze the Hong Kong leg of its dual listing scheduled for Thursday.

This followed a meeting with China’s financial regulators on Monday during which Ma and his top executives were told that Ant’s lucrative online lending business would face tighter scrutiny, sources told Reuters.

The Shanghai bourse described Ant’s meeting with financial regulators as a “major event” which, along with a tougher regulatory environment, disqualified Ant from listing.

In China, analysts interpreted the move as a slap down for Ma, who had wanted Ant to be treated as technology company rather than a highly regulated financial institution.

“The Communist Party has shown the tycoons who’s boss. Jack Ma might be the richest man in the world but that doesn’t mean a thing. This has gone from the deal of the century to the shock of the century,” Francis Lun, CEO of GEO Securities, said.

To revive its listing, Ant is trying to establish if it needs to disclose more information to the Shanghai exchange about its relationship with regulators, or if the bourse expects it to resolve all its issues with the regulators, which would take much longer, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

At an event last month attended by Chinese regulators, Ma said the financial and regulatory system stifled innovation and must be reformed to fuel growth. He also compared the Basel Committee of global banking regulators to “an old man’s club”.

Ant believes the public criticism put Ma in the crosshairs of regulators, the person said.

The suspension reverberated across markets. Alibaba Group Holding (9988.HK) (BABA.N) , which owns about a third of Ant, fell 9% in early U.S. trading, wiping nearly $76 billion off its value, more than double the amount Ant was planning to raise.

“This is a curve ball that has been thrown at us ... I don’t know what to say,” said one banker working on the IPO.
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