Beijing Gives Preliminary Approval to Revive Ant IPO After Crackdown Cools

Author: Nishu June 10, 2022

Beijing Gives Preliminary Approval to Revive Ant IPO After Crackdown Cools


Ant, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, aims to file preliminary prospectuses for share offers in Shanghai and Hong Kong early next month.

Ant, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, aims to file preliminary prospectuses for share offers in Shanghai and Hong Kong early next month.

China’s central leadership has given billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group a tentative green light to revive its initial public offering (IPO), two sources with knowledge of the matter said, in a clear sign that the Beijing tech sector is yet to launch. But making your action easier.

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Ant, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, aims to file preliminary prospectus for share offerings in Shanghai and Hong Kong early next month, the sources said, who did not wish to be named due to sensitivity. Case.

One of the sources said the fintech giant will have to wait for guidance from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on the specific timing of the prospectus filing.

In a publicly released statement, Ant said it had no plans to relaunch its IPO, without elaborating. It did not respond to a request by Reuters for comment on whether it had received the green light from Beijing.

The company’s stock market listing was hastily postponed in November 2020 at the behest of Beijing. At the time, it was valued at about $315 billion and had plans to raise $37 billion, which would have been a world record.

“Under the guidance of regulators, we remain focused on continuing to move forward with our reform work and have no plans to launch an IPO,” Ant said on its WeChat account late Thursday.

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

Ant wants to keep IPO revival plans pending a formal announcement, after attracting regulatory glare in its first attempt in 2020 with Ripples making the offering as the world’s largest equity float, a separate source with direct knowledge spoke to. Told.

Chinese authorities pulled the plug on the IPO and cracked down on Ma’s business empire in October 2020 after the financial watchdog in Shanghai accused him of stalling innovation.

The IPO derailment triggered a regulatory crackdown to rein in China’s vast domestic technology sector, which has spread to other industries including property and private education, wiped billions from market capitalization and triggered layoffs at some firms. Did it

With its economy slowing in a politically sensitive year, when Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as party leader, Beijing is looking to loosen its grip on private businesses, including tech giants, so that it can take 5.5 % growth target, some economists have said it will be difficult to reach given the COVID-19 lockdown.

“They are coming back to their action to balance the lockdown. Any data out of China has been terrible because of the recent lockdowns and the last thing they want to do is complicate that issue. From the next three In six months we are likely to see a crack in China,” said David Madden, market analyst at Equity Capital in London.

The revival of the IPO could also be a rehabilitation of sorts for Ma, who has maintained a low public profile since Beijing swooped in.

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Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He told technical officials last month that the government supports the development of the sector and will support firms pursuing listings at home and abroad.

In another sign of Beijing’s soft stance, China’s ride-hailer Didi Global, which has been under cybersecurity scrutiny since last year, is in advanced talks to buy a third of the state-backed electric-vehicle maker, Reuters reported on Wednesday. informed to.

News of the talks comes after the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Chinese regulators are set to end their investigation into Didi, which could offer investors more hope about its recovery.

Bloomberg reported earlier on Thursday that Chinese financial regulators had begun early-stage talks on a possible revival of Ant’s stock market debut, without mentioning a timeline.

Bloomberg reported that the top securities regulator had set up a team to reevaluate share sale plans.

The regulator later said in a statement that it had not conducted any evaluation or research work in relation to the Ant IPO.

Listed shares of Alibaba in the US, which Ant owns about one-third, were down 7% after rising 7% in pre-market trading on a Bloomberg report.

A separate source said US private equity firm Warburg Pincus, a major investor in Ant’s 2018 private fundraising, lowered Ant’s valuation at the end of March by about $180 billion, up from $221 billion a year earlier.

Regulators have instructed Ant to be restructured as a financial rather than a tech firm, and sources and analysts have said the financial sector generally has low valuations.

Warburg Pincus declined to comment on Thursday.

“The size of Ant and IPO should be smaller than what was planned in 2020 as market conditions have changed and cannot be compared anymore,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of Kingston Securities in Hong Kong.

US-listed stocks of Chinese tech and e-commerce firms including Didi and Alibaba have signaled this week that Beijing’s year-and-a-half-long crackdown may be easing.

10 June, 2022, 9:59 am

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