Report: Jack Ma Offered Beijing Part of Alibaba-Affiliated Ant Group to Save IPO

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The co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, offered to hand over parts of his financial-technology giant Ant Group to the Chinese government in an attempt to save the company’s initial public offering (IPO) that was delayed by Chinese regulatory authorities, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

In early November, the planned record-setting IPO of Ant Group, a financial service and FinTech company affiliated with Alibaba, was suspended by the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Ant Group was expected to raise up to US$34.4 billion through its IPO in both the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, making it the largest IPO in history, reported Sputnik news agency.

“You can take any of the platforms Ant has, as long as the country needs it,” Ma said at a meeting with representatives of Chinese regulatory authorities on November 2 as quoted by the media outlet.

According to the publication, the offer did not help to salvage the IPO since Beijing was angered by Ma’s criticism of Beijing’s excessive regulations in the national financial industry, which he viewed as a major obstacle for the growth of new financial services and innovations. Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly personally ordered Chinese regulators to study possible risks posed by Ant Group and suspend the IPO.

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The news outlet notes that no decision has been taken so far regarding Ma’s offer.

Alibaba Group owns 33 percent of Ant Group, headquartered in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. The company has a leading position in China in mobile payments, and it also offers credit, insurance, and asset management services through mobile applications.