The Shanghai Stock Exchange has halted an initial public offering for fintech giant Ant Group, said a statement published on the bourse’s website Tuesday, just one day after Chinese regulators summoned company co-founder Jack Ma and other executives for a meeting. The firm’s concurrent Hong Kong listing appears to have been suspended as well. At $34.5 billion, the IPO was set to be the largest of all time.
Details: The Shanghai Stock Exchange made the decision because there were “significant changes” in the regulatory environment that Ant Group faces, according to the statement (in Chinese).
- The bourse said Ant Group may not be able to meet its listing thresholds, citing the meeting with regulators.
- “Recently, the actual controller, chairman, and chief executive of your company were summoned by relevant regulators, and your company has reported that the regulatory environment has changed,” said the statement.
Context: On Monday, China’s central bank and three other top financial regulators summoned Ma, company Chairman Eric Jing, and Chief Executive Simon Hu to a meeting, but neither side has disclosed the reasons.
- Ant Group’s leadership team was told the company would face “increased scrutiny” and be subject to restrictions on capital and leverage similar to banks, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
- The same day, China’s banking regulator and central bank issued new rules to limit micro-lending, a key Ant business line.
- “De-risking” has been a top priority for finance regulators over the past year.
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This piece has been updated to add additional context.