China Blocks $35B IPO

Regulators call off Ant Group offering planned for Thursday
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2020 5:46 PM CST
China Puts Giant IPO in Doubt
An employee walks past the picture of Ant Group's mascot at its Hong Kong office last month.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Two days before Ant Group was scheduled to go public in what could have been a $35 billion event, the largest IPO ever, Chinese regulators have called it all off. Not only is the IPO originally planned for Thursday in doubt, Bloomberg reports, but the fintech giant might face an overhaul. Regulators had called in Jack Ma, Ant's billionaire founder, on Monday, then announced they'd come across problems, including potential issues involving disclosure requirements, but provided no other details. Nor did Ma. "Views regarding the health and stability of the financial sector were exchanged," a statement from Ant Group said, adding that the company would implement "the meeting opinions." After its suspension in Shanghai, per the AP, Ant said it was suspending its listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange as well.

"It's definitely surprising," an American financial researcher said. "If there is something strange going on on the macro side for China's financial markets or in the company, that would be worrisome." Ma recently had criticized local and global regulators, saying they had thwarted innovation and opportunities for young people. The criticism had drawn the attention of state media; government scrutiny has increased as Ant has added financial technology services. "This further reinforces the regulatory pressures building on tech giants," an Australia analyst said. "It’s good news for banks," he said, given that Ant competes with traditional lenders. At the moment, banks and global investors also are in the dark and needing answers. Billions of dollars is already committed to the Ant Group's IPO. (Read more Jack Ma stories.)

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