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Fintech giant Ant Group faces potential US ban ahead of IPO

Written by Wency Chen Published on 

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Chinese regulators probe Alipay’s exclusive role in mutual fund distribution which has delayed Ant’s IPO.

The US government is considering to add Chinese fintech giant Ant Group, Alibaba’s affiliate, into the entity list as the Trump administration underlines its hard stance towards China, before Ant Group’s long-anticipated blockbuster USD 35 billion stock listing in Hong Kong and mainland China, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The US State Department has submitted the proposal to the Trump administration out of concern that Ant Group’s mobile payment solution and financial services could potentially give Chinese authorities access to sensitive banking data belonging to US users, according to the report. Officials in the White House also have been discussing potential restrictions on WeChat’s payment system for the same reason.

Meanwhile, Hangzhou-based Ant Group, which is 33%-owned by Alibaba and controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, reportedly met regulatory hurdles in its IPO process. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is probing the role of Alipay, which is the only third-party channel through which retail investors could buy into five Chinese mutual funds investing in the IPO.

The CSRC said in guidelines effective from October 1 that mutual fund distributors should avoid conflicts of interest from selling products related to their other existing and potential businesses. The investigation delayed Ant Group’s IPO which was slated for early October after China’s Golden Week national holiday.

Ant Group’s spokesperson responded to local media that they “don’t have a preset IPO timetable and any speculation about it has no factual basis,” noting that the listing process in both markets is in an orderly manner.

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