Financial Regulators Summon Jack Ma Ahead of Mega Listing


Investors, both retail and institutional, are rushing to buy into Ant, which operates China's biggest payments platform and other financial services, despite risks of greater scrutiny at home and overseas.

Ant was spun out of Alibaba, which owns a one-third stake in the financial technology powerhouse.

What was supposed to be the world's largest initial public stock offering has been halted at the last minute. The company is set to begin trading Thursday.

Investors in the IPO, however, have brushed aside company-specific and broader market concerns on hopes that Ant will continue to benefit from the rapid digitization of financial services in China.

The dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong could be worth up to a record $35 billion.Ant's Alipay payment app is now unavailable for American users in the USA, according to a company spokesperson.

The listing was due to go ahead in Shanghai and Hong Kong on Thursday.

The extraordinary move comes after Ant executives-along with Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who controls the fintech giant-were summoned to a meeting yesterday with Chinese regulators.

"This material event may cause your company to fail to meet the issuance and listing conditions or information disclosure requirements", the stock market operator said.

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The Hong Kong exchange then reported that Ant had chose to suspend its planned listing.

Ma, Executive Chairman Eric Jing and Chief Executive Simon Hu met senior representatives of the People's Bank of China, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, according to a CSRC statement on Weibo.

"China does not have a systemic financial risk problem. As a result, many good companies have turned into bad companies".

At a meeting over the weekend of the Financial Stability and Development Committee, presided over by Vice Premier Liu He, officials stressed the need for fintech firms to be regulated.

Alipay says the total volume of payments on its platforms in China for the year ending in June was $17.6tn. Its vast pool of user data has allowed it to serve as an efficient matchmaker between smaller businesses and individual investors in need of a loan and traditional lenders.

"If this is an isolated incident to Ant, then the New Economy stocks that have done well so far should be fine. if not, markets may start to price in uncertainty on tighter regulations on private enterprises and we could see a significant pullback on Chinese growth stocks".

The suspension made a clear signal to the markets that the registration-based IPO system has supervision for each step and everyone must respect the rules, the report said, "There is no exception". "It's standard government muscle flexing".