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Spinning Ant’s IPO

That China wants – needs – to put its own spin on the events surrounding Ant Group’s failed IPO last year is clear from recent leaks by mainland officials.

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Journalists who know when a story has immediate and staying power often say it has ‘legs’. With that in mind, the decision in November by China to scrap the initial public offering of Ant Group is a tale that looks set to run and run.

The debate about the financial technology firm's Shanghai-Hong Kong listing, set to break all records until it was quashed at almost the last possible moment, was reignited on February 16.

That day, The Wall Street Journal cited a new reason the deal was scrapped: because of the political identities of some of the people who were set to profit from it most.

The story points to a central government investigation in the lead-up to the stock offering. Beneath a complex web of investment firms, the probe discovered a host of wealthy and well-connected tycoons.


Many were financially or personally connected to Jack Ma, the co-founder of Ant Group and Alibaba.

Some of the names were already known. Buyout firm Boyu Capital, an early investor in Ant, played a key role in its $14 billion private fundraising in 2018. One of its partners is Jiang Zhicheng, the grandson of former president Jiang Zemin, many of whose allies were purged in current leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.


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