The chances that Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co will be able to revive its massive stock listing next year are looking increasingly slim as China overhauls rules governing the fintech industry, according to regulatory officials familiar with the matter.
Ant is still in the early stages of reviewing changes needed to appease regulators, who demand that its business comply with a slate of new and proposed guidelines in areas including lending to consumers, the officials said.
With so much work needed and some rules not yet spelled out, the officials said the initial public offering may not get done before 2022.
An additional delay of a year or more would be another setback for billionaire Ma, as well as the early-stage investors including Warburg Pincus LLC that were counting on a windfall from what was poised to be a record $35 billion IPO. It would also deal a potential blow to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which owns a third of Ant and saw its stock tumble after the deal was abruptly suspended this month. Alibaba fell 3% in Hong Kong Monday, the biggest drop in almost three weeks.
A representative for Ant declined to comment. Representatives at the central bank, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission didn’t immediately respond to faxes seeking comments.
The enormity of the challenge Ant faces restarting its IPO emerged from discussions with officials working across regulators with oversight of
financial services and the securities industry.
They emphasized that Beijing’s immediate priority was ensuring the fintech giant fall in line with the evolving regulatory environment.
China has set up a joint task force to oversee Ant, led by the Financial Stability and Development Committee, a financial system regulator, along with various departments of the central bank and other regulators, two of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters. The group is in regular contact with Ant to collect data and other materials, studying its restructuring as well as drafting other rules for the fintech industry, they said.
Under the draft rules for micro-lenders issued in
early November, Ant would
be forced to replenish
capital. That could mean the company needs about $12 billion to comply, according to an estimate from Bloomberg