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Ant IPO could resume once issues resolved, central bank says

Offering some relief to global investors seeking signs on what the future holds for the world’s largest fintech giant.
Image: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Ant Group Co. could resume its plans for an initial public offering once problems are resolved, China’s central bank chief said, offering some relief to global investors seeking signs on what the future holds for the world’s largest fintech giant.

People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said relevant agencies are still investigating issues related to monopolies at billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group, adding that the matters were “complicated” and some risks were related to consumer privacy. To resolve the problems, regulators need a clear legal framework, Yi said on a panel at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday.

“I would say that this is a process and also once the problem solved, it will go back to the track to continue consideration according to law,” Yi said in English.

Chinese regulators are asking Ant to work on a timetable to overhaul its business after abruptly halting its $35 billion IPO in November. The fate of Ma’s sprawling fintech empire remains uncertain after China issued a slew of draft rules that threatened to curb growth for some of Ant’s most lucrative businesses.

The message from Yi is the latest sign that Ant has avoided a worst-case scenario where it needs to shutter businesses completely. Ma resurfaced in January, ending a months-long period away from public view that fueled intense speculation about his plight.

While regulators stopped short of directly asking for a breakup of the company in December, the central bank stressed that Ant needs to “understand the necessity of overhauling” and come up with a timetable as soon as possible.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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