Chinese government intervention blocks Ant Group IPO

Intervention from the Chinese government has blocked what was shaping up to be the largest Initial Public Offering (IPO) in history.

Ant Group was due to launch the £34.4 billion IPO on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges tomorrow, but Chinese authorities summoned key executives to a meeting in which they were told the group's online lending business would face much more scrutiny.

Reuters reported that Chinese regulators are tightening rules for online micro-lending companies in order to rein in rising debt levels, informing the FinTech giant that it would need to abide by these rules in order to list.

The Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges reacted by informing Ant Group that “changes in the financial technology regulatory environment” would result in the company not meeting the conditions for listing.

A statement from Ant Group apologised for any inconvenience caused to potential investors.

“We will properly handle the follow-up matters in accordance with applicable regulations of the two stock exchanges," it read, adding: "We will overcome the challenges and live up to the trust on the principles of: stable innovation; embrace of regulation; service to the real economy; and win-win cooperation.”

The FinTech group was founded by Alibaba founder Jack Ma and is a third owned by the e-commerce giant.

There have been suggestions that the intervention might have been a response to critical comments by Ma made about China’s financial system.

China’s richest man said last month: “Today’s financial system is the legacy of the industrial age, we must set up a new one for the next generation and young people; we must reform the current system.”

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