EXCLUSIVE Beijing gives first nod to reviving Ant IPO plans in Shanghai, Hong Kong – sources


The logo of Ant Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba, is pictured at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

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HONG KONG, June 9 (Reuters) – China’s central management has given a tentative green light to Jack Ma’s Ant Group to relaunch its IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday. case.

Ant, a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK), aims to file the preliminary offering prospectus as early as next month, the sources said, declining to be named due to sensitivity of the question. .

The fintech giant, however, still has to await guidance from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on the exact timing of the prospectus filing, one of the sources said.

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In a statement made public, Ant said there were no plans to relaunch its IPO, which was hastily put on hold at Beijing’s behest in November 2020. At the time, it was expected to be valued at approximately $315 billion and planned to raise $37 billion. , a world record.

“Under the guidance of regulators, we are focused on steadily advancing our rectification work and have no plans to launch an IPO,” Ant said.

Neither the CSRC nor China’s State Council Information Office, which handles media inquiries for central leaders, immediately responded to Reuters’ request for comment.

Chinese authorities shut down the IPO and cracked down on Ma’s business empire after he gave a speech in Shanghai in October 2020 accusing financial watchdogs of stifling innovation.

The IPO derailment marked the start of a regulatory crackdown aimed at reining in China’s huge tech sector and the possible resumption of a stock sale would be a clear sign of a thaw in relations.

Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday that Chinese financial regulators have entered preliminary discussions on a possible relaunch of the stock market debut. He did not mention possible registration locations or the timetable. Read more

The regulator has set up a team to reassess plans to sell shares of the fintech giant, which is controlled by Ma, Bloomberg reported.

The CSRC said in a statement that it had not carried out any assessment or research work regarding an Ant IPO.

U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holdings, which owns nearly a third of Ant, fell 1% after previously rising 7% in premarket trading according to the Bloomberg report.

“The Chinese government needs something to encourage economic growth and there has been a relaxation of some regulatory policies that had been put in place for the tech sector,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of Kingston Securities in Hong Kong. .

“The size of Ant and the IPO will need to be smaller than expected in 2020 as market conditions have changed and cannot be compared to today.”

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese tech and e-commerce firms gained this week on hints that Beijing’s months-long crackdown may ease, with ride-sharing company Didi Global and Alibaba in increase of a third each.

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Reporting by Julie Zhu; Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Vidy Ranganathan, Abinaya Vijayaraghavan, Scott Murdoch and Kane Wu. Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Carmel Crimmins

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