Ant Group suspends Hong Kong and Shanghai IPOs following Chinese regulatory disapproval

Chinese regulators blocked Ant Group's Shanghai listing after a meeting with the company's top executives.

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Image: Ant Group

The Shanghai stock exchange has halted Ant Group's IPO, which was set to go ahead this week, after finding that it may not meet regulatory requirements from talking with the company's top executives. 

The company's Shanghai IPO was suspended on Tuesday night after Chinese regulators met with the company's top executives, including Jack Ma, Eric Jing, and Simon Hu. During the meeting, the regulators came to the decision that the Shanghai listing may no longer meet regulatory and disclosure requirements due to "recent changes in the fintech environment".

This then prompted Ant Group to also suspend its Hong Kong listing, which had been scheduled for Thursday, Ant Group said in a stock exchange notice

"Ant Group was notified by the Shanghai Stock Exchange today that our A share listing plan on the Shanghai Stock Exchange would be suspended. Consequently, Ant has decided that the concurrent H share listing plan on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange shall also be suspended," the company said in a statement.

In the statement, Ant Group also apologised for any inconvenience that the suspensions have caused to investors.

"We will keep in close communications with the Shanghai Stock Exchange and relevant regulators, and wait for their further notice with respect to further developments of our offering and listing process and disclose in a timely manner."

The company, the owner of Alipay, had priced its shares at HK$80 and 68.8 yuan apiece, respectively, for the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges.  

Based on these share prices, Ant Group was seeking to raise about $17.2 billion in each city, according to the Wall Street Journal. The $34.4 billion figure would have reportedly made it the biggest IPO to date.

The company kicked off its IPO proceedings in July, saying at the time that a concurrent listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong would help the company push domestic demand and facilitate the company's expansion in global markets alongside its partners. 

Alongside Alibaba, which owns a 33% stake in Ant Group, the two companies have looked to expand Alipay's global footprint in recent years through various initiatives, including a three-year plan to add 40 million service providers across China onto the mobile payment platform.

Last November, Ant Group also made Alipay available to foreign visitors in China, which marked the first time the e-wallet could be used outside its domestic population to pay for goods and services. Previously, only Chinese bank account holders could use the platform. 

Alipay currently supports over 1.2 billion users and can be used to pay for a range of services in-app, including taxi rides, hotel room bookings, and movie tickets.

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