Chinese regulators torpedo Ant Group listing

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) has intervened to halt the public sale of shares in Ant Group, China’s financial technology giant, due to take place later this week.

The share sale would have raised $35bn, making it the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in history and surpassing the record set by Saudi Aramco’s $29.4bn float in December.

This would have valued Ant at up to $320bn, making it the world’s highest-valued financial technology (fintech) company.

In a statement, the Shanghai exchange said it had ruled that Ant may fail to meet its listing conditions or information disclosure requirements.

The decision to halt the share sale came following recent supervisory interviews, the SSE said.

In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Ant said it was suspending its listing ‘due to material matters relating to a recent regulatory interview’ of its senior executives.

It also cited ‘recent changes in the fintech regulatory environment’ as a reason for stopping the share sale.

The announcement sent the shares of Alibaba Group, which owns a 33 per cent stake in Ant, down 6 percent in pre-market trading in New York.

Bitcoin rose over 1 percent in US dollar terms on the news.

Last week Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, unleashed a full-frontal attack on the world’s financial regulatory system.

Ma said the Basel standards, which set capital requirements for the world’s banks, had been designed by ‘a club of old people’ and were inadequate for today’s digital economy.

Ma called for a new financial framework based on big data, cloud computing and blockchain technology.

The decision by Chinese regulators to halt the Ant Group listing comes against the background of accelerating competition between the US and China over money.

While US tech giant Facebook has so far been thwarted in its payment plans, Ant Group’s payment arm, Alipay, has introduced mobile-based payments technology for over 1bn users and is expanding its activities worldwide.

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