- Chinese President Xi Jinping halted Ant Group’s historic $37 billion initial public offering after its founder, Jack Ma, criticized government leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- A week before the Chinese fintech was set to go public, Ma made incendiary comments that didn’t go down well with the president or other government officials, the report said.
- Xi has displayed a low tolerance for big private businesses that accumulate wealth and power as they threaten his authority, The Journal said.
- It’s unclear whether Xi or another government official was the first to suggest suspending the IPO, the newspaper said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping halted Ant Group’s record-breaking initial public offering after its founder, Jack Ma, snubbed government leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The Chinese fintech’s public listing was expected to be the largest in history, at $37 billion, but China’s new lending rules threw a wrench in its plans, and financial authorities eventually suspended the offering.
Xi has not been a fan of the ascendance of big private businesses that rack up wealth and power in the country, as they are seen as posing a challenge to his authority, The Journal said.
At a conference in Shanghai on October 24, about a week before Ant was set to go public, Ma dismissed global banking rules, saying they were unsuitable for healthy innovation.
Ma quoted Xi as saying “success does not have to come from me” and said he wanted to use innovation to help solve China’s financial problems, The Journal reported. Sources told the newspaper that government officials thought his comments sought to damage regulators’ reputations.
Ma also criticized the regulators who enforce a set of international banking rules as “an old people’s club,” The Times reported.
Xi and other government officials who read reports about Ma’s speech were enraged by the comments, The Journal reported. On Xi’s instructions, Chinese regulators investigated Ant’s offering, and the IPO was suspended on November 3.
The fintech had already secured over $3 trillion in orders from individual investors across its dual listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
It was unclear whether Xi or another government official was the first to suggest the IPO suspension, The Journal said.
Ant Group did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.