Ant Group's blockbuster initial public offering is on hold after media reports that Ant's co-founder Jack Ma and two other executives have been summoned to meet with China's central bank.
Global Times, a China state-affiliated media outlet, tweeted that the Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended the upcoming IPO, but did not give a reason.
|BABA||ALIBABA GROUP HOLDING LTD.||92.55||-4.99||-5.12%|
Alibaba, which owns approximately one-third of the Chinese financial services giant, saw its shares fall sharply in U.S. trading, down nearly 8%.
The $34.5 billion IPO, which had been set for Nov. 5, is being postponed for changes in the "regulatory environment," according to a statement from Shanghai’s Star Market.
“On November 2, 2020, Ma as controlling shareholder of Ant Group and Ant’s management team met with Chinese financial regulators,” Ant Group said in a statement obtained by the South China Morning Post. “Views regarding the health and stability of the financial sector were exchanged. Ant Group is committed to implementing the meeting opinions in depth and continuing our course based on the principles of: stable innovation; embrace of regulation; service to the real economy; and win-win cooperation. We will continue to improve our capabilities to provide inclusive services and promote economic development to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.”
The $34.5 billion IPO would value Ant Group at roughly $280 billion, making it among the largest companies in the world.
At a financial technology conference in Shanghai on Saturday, Ma criticized Chinese banks, noting they operated like “pawnshops," citing the collateral they require before a loan is made. Ma also advocated for financial reform, touting the benefits of big data, cloud computing and blockchain.
Ant Group, which was previously known as Ant Financial, was part of Alibaba before it became its own separate company, following a spin-off. It has its hands in a number of different financial services and is China's largest digital wallet, with more than 1 billion users around the globe.
Earlier this week, Ant Group priced its IPO in a dual list, with its Shanghai stock priced at 68.8 yuan ($10.26) each, while shares on the Hong Kong exchange were priced at 80 Hong Kong dollars apiece ($10.32), according to filings on Monday.
Ant Group's IPO would be the largest IPO ever, topping the IPO from Saudi Aramco, which raised $29 billion in 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.