Ant Group can resume IPO plans after problem resolution: Chinese central bank chief

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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China’s central bank chief said that Alibaba-owned financial company Ant Group can resume its preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) once problems are resolved.

This offers some relief to global investors seeking signs of 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, Mr. Yi said on a panel at the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“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,” Mr. Yi said.

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

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

While regulators did not directly ask for a breakup of the company in December, the central bank stressed that Ant Group needs to “understand the necessity of overhauling” and come up with a timetable as soon as possible.