Ant Group has abruptly suspended its initial public offering following a meeting between top company executives and regulators in China.
The IPO, in which Ant was seeking to raise $37 billion, was expected to be the largest ever share offering. The current record is held by Saudi state oil company Aramco, which raised $29.4 billion when it issued shares on the Riyadh exchange last December.
It would have valued Ant at more than $310 billion, more than Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
On Monday, Ant Group founder Jack Ma, executive chairman Eric Jing, and chief executive officer Simon Hu were called to a meeting with Chinese regulators, whom Ma had criticized for stifling innovation.
Also on Monday, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission proposed new rules for online lenders that could require Ant to hold more cash for loans it makes.
In a statement, the Shanghai Stock Exchange said it had postponed the company’s listing two days before shares were set to begin trading due to “major issues” that might cause Ant “not to meet the listing conditions or disclosure requirements.”
Ant’s dual listing in Hong Kong was also suspended.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Ant said the company suspended the Hong Kong listing after learning from the Shanghai Exchange that the IPO would be delayed.
“Ant Group sincerely apologizes to you for any inconvenience caused by this development,” the company said. “We will properly handle the follow-up matters in accordance with applicable regulations of the two stock exchanges. We will overcome the challenges and live up to the trust on the principles of stable innovation; embrace of regulation; service to the real economy; and win-win cooperation.”
Shares of Alibaba, which owns 33% of Ant, fell as much as 9% on the New York Stock Exchange following the news.
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