Big trouble for Jack Ma led Ant Group! Here is what China wants

    Jack Ma led Ant Group has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by China.
    By REUTERS
    | Updated on Feb 22 2022, 02:59 PM IST
    Jack Ma led Ant Group has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by China, whose initial public offering of $37 billion.
    Jack Ma led Ant Group has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by China, whose initial public offering of $37 billion. (REUTERS)
    Jack Ma led Ant Group has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by China, whose initial public offering of $37 billion.
    Jack Ma led Ant Group has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by China, whose initial public offering of $37 billion. (REUTERS)

    Chinese authorities have told state-owned firms and banks to start a fresh round of checks on their financial exposure and other links to Jack Ma led Ant Group Co Ltd, Bloomberg News reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. Institutions were asked by many regulators, including the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, to closely examine all exposure they had to the Jack Ma-controlled fintech group, its subsidiaries and even its shareholders up to January, the report added.

    Ant Group, the payment affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, declined to comment.

    The National Audit Office is leading the initiative, the report said.

    Ant has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by China, whose initial public offering of $37 billion was derailed by regulators in late 2020.

    State-owned banks and non-bank firms are among the entities that have been asked by the regulatory authorities to make checks, said the sources, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

    The request came last week, one of the sources said. It was not immediately clear if the firms have been given a deadline to submit the information nor what action, if any, will be taken after that.

    Since the IPO's cancellation, Ant, controlled by Alibaba's billionaire founder Ma, has embarked on a regulatory-driven restructuring plan that would see it become a financial holding company.

    The latest regulatory move comes as authorities continue to roll out new initiatives for the country's technology sector, which has been subjected to a year-long regulatory crackdown, to keep financial risks under control.

    The move also added to investor concerns that Beijing could continue with its clampdown this year, triggering a selloff in the technology sector on Tuesday. Alibaba shares dropped as much as 5.3% to their lowest since Jan. 28.

    Shares in Alibaba, which is also listed in New York, had rallied late last year with investors betting on the central government relaxing its scrutiny over Ma's business empire.

    In the latest move, the regulatory authorities have asked the state-owned firms to submit details of investments in equities, and exposure to asset-backed securities, and loans in relation to Ant.

    Ant declined to comment.

    Bloomberg first reported the scrutiny on Monday.

    Last month, China Cinda Asset Management Co Ltd, one of the four biggest state-owned asset management companies (AMCs) in China, announced the scrapping of a planned Ant investment.

    Cinda scrapped the deal to buy a 20% stake worth about $944 million in Ant Group's consumer finance arm because of pressure from state authorities, people with knowledge of the matter had said.

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    First Published Date: 22 Feb, 02:55 PM IST
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