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Ant IPO sheds harsh light on Europe’s decline

A decade ago, European banks were mainstays on stock sales such as Ant’s – now they're conspicuous by their absence.

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When China’s Ant Group filed its listing prospectus with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on August 25, there was much to mull.

The eye was drawn, not so much to the banks named as joint sponsors on the Hong Kong leg of an IPO that could value the technology firm at north of $300 billion, but to the list of notable and absent friends.

Citi, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were all there, next to CICC. A simultaneous listing on Shanghai’s year-old Star Market will be led by CICC and China Securities.

But there was no room at the top table for Goldman Sachs or Credit Suisse, two banks that know the fintech giant very well.

Goldman is believed to have snagged a lesser role on the Hong Kong sale as a joint lead manager. Its work raising capital for Tencent-backed Pinduoduo, a rival of Ant affiliate Alibaba, likely worked against it.

Credit Suisse’s omission will have stung more. It has handled several deals for Ant and invested $100 million in the firm in 2018. The Swiss bank made the IPO’s Hong Kong leg, but only as a joint global coordinator.

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