Four Chinese regulators including the central bank and banking watchdog invited billionaire Jack Ma and Ant Group’s top executives to a supervisory interview on Monday, a rare meeting with multiple financial regulators that underscores rising government scrutiny of the company before its stock-market debut.
Ant chairman Eric Jing and CEO Simon Hu were also at the meeting, which included the China Securities Regulatory Commission and State Administration of Foreign Exchange, according to a statement on Weibo. No further details were disclosed in the statement.
“Ant Group will implement the meeting opinions in depth,” the company said in a statement. It will follow guidelines including stable innovation, an embrace of supervision and service to the real economy, it said.
China’s largest payments company is days away from its trading debut following the world’s largest initial public offering, which is poised to raise US$34.5-billion. It values the company at about $315-billion based of filings, more than JPMorgan Chase & Co. The sale vaults Ma’s fortune to $71.6-billion, topping the Walmart heirs.
The IPO is attracting interest from some of the world’s biggest money managers, and sparking a frenzy among individual investors in China clamoring for a piece of the sale. Institutional investors in Hong Kong are buying Ant shares at a 50% premium, people familiar with the matter have said, signaling it’s poised to soar when it starts trading on 5 November.
Ant was formed when Alibaba Group launched the Alipay payments app in 2004 as an escrow service for buyers and sellers on Ma’s e-commerce website. — Reported by Lulu Yilun Chen, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP