According to a report from the Wall Street Journal which cites Chinese officials with knowledge of the matter at hand, Chinese President Xi Jinping had personally decided to pull the plug on Ant Group’s $37-billion initial public offering.
The decision to stop what would have been the world’s biggest IPO, comes in the wake of the fintech’s founder Jack Ma launching a public attack on China’s banks and financial watchdogs.
President Xi had ordered Chinese regulators to investigate and effectively shut down Ant’s stock market flotation, reads WSJ’s report.
The Ant Group did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
The Information Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, could not be reached immediately for comment.
On October 24, during a summit in Shanghaii Ma had said, China’s regulatory system was stifling innovation and must be reformed to fuel growth. This speech set off a chain of events which torpedoed ANT’s IPO listing.
Following Ma’s speech which had called for reforms in China’s financial sector, state regulators started compiling reports on how Ant had used digital financial products including Huabei, a virtual credit card service, to encourage economically weaker consumers to take on debt.
The general office of the State Council had also compiled a report on public sentiment on Ma’s speech and submitted it to senior leaders including President Xi.