After a closed-door meeting with Jack Ma, Ant Group’s co-founder, China decided to abruptly suspend their IPO (initial public offering) in Hong Kong. It had the potential to be the biggest share sale, of $37 billion, in history by a wide margin.
Over a week ago, Ma had criticized the Chinese regulators of not being willing to take risks with their innovative ideas. And on Monday, 4th November 2020, financial regulators, including People’s Bank of China’ had a meeting with Ma and 2 Ant Group executives, after which their decision was carried forward.
The Ant Group is affiliated with Alibaba (BABA), the founder of which is also Jack Ma. And, the IPO would have valued it more than most US investment banks – at around $310 billion. But according to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, there were “major reasons” for the suspension that could cause the company “not to meet the listing conditions or disclosure requirements.” And Ant Group has apologized to all its investors for “any inconvenience caused by this development”.
Alibaba (BABA) is a prominent platform to buy and sell products around the globe, and Alipay is China’s largest payment platform. But, after the IPO got suspended, Alibaba’s shares dived by 9% in New York.
This was the 1st time that Chinese regulators took such drastic actions right before a large IPO. And even though it isn’t clearly stated as to why the halt took place, Duncan Clark, chairman of investment advisory firm BDA China and the author of “Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built” seems to think that it could be Beijing’s way to tell everyone “who calls the shots”.
On Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, Ant Group announced that it would overcome the barriers and stay involved in a “win-win cooperation” with Chinese regulators and the Shanghai exchange for the betterment of the economy. They also said that they would “continue to serve small and micro businesses and ordinary citizens with our passion, professionalism and commitment for society."