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World

Jack Ma's Ant IPO blocked by Chinese government, after probe revealed political beneficiaries

  • Last year, Chinese premier Xi Jinping blocked Ant Group's initial public offering, as it was speculated that the decision was based on Jack Ma's public criticism of Jinping's financial oversight campaign, and that it could add risk to the financial system.
  • A group of well-connected Chinese power players backed the company; including those linked with political families that pose a potential challenge to Jinping's authority.
Published February 17, 2021

Last year, Chinese premier Xi Jinping blocked Ant Group's initial public offering, as it was speculated that the decision was based on Jack Ma's public criticism of Jinping's financial oversight campaign, and that it could add risk to the financial system.

Furthermore, there was growing unease amongst Chinese government officials and advisers over the complex ownership structure of Ant Group, and those who would stand to gain most from what would have been the world's most lucrative IPO.

Weeks prior to the financial-technology behemoth's public offering was to be released, a central-government probe revealed that the company's IPO prospectus obscured the complexity of its ownership structure.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a group of well-connected Chinese power players backed the company; including those linked with political families that pose a potential challenge to Jinping's authority.

That group, along with its founder Jack Ma, would have stood to gain billions of dollars from a public listing that could propel the company to a valuation of more than $300 billion.

During his eight years as President, Jinping heavily sidelined his political rivals, as he introduced campaigns against corruption, real-estate speculation and other high-risk financial activities; using the anti-graft mandate to target actual corruption, and to strengthen his authority.

An Ant Group spokesman stated that the details of the company's shareholding structure were fully disclosed in the prospectus and in its public business registration records.

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