World’s biggest IPO just got suspended, as executives face questions over regulatory issues

World's biggest IPO just got suspended, as executives face questions over regulatory issues

The record-setting initial public offering for Ant Group, the spinoff of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, has been suspended, the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges announced on Tuesday.

Ant Group’s controller Jack Ma, executive chairman Eric Jing and CEO Simon Hu were summoned and interviewed by regulators in China, according to a statement from the China Securities Regulatory Commission on Monday.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Shanghai Stock Exchange referenced this meeting in explaining why it has suspended the IPO.

“Recently, your company’s actual controller, chairman and general manager have been jointly summoned and interviewed by the relevant regulatory authorities,” the stock exchange said, according to a CNBC translation of its Mandarin comments.

“Your company has also reported significant issues such as the changes in financial technology regulatory environment. These issues may result in your company not meeting the conditions for listing or meeting the information disclosure requirements.”

As a result, the Shanghai Stock Exchange decided to suspend the company’s listing on the Science and Technology Innovation Board, also known as the STAR Market. That is China’s Nasdaq-style, tech-heavy market.

Shortly after, Ant Group put out a statement saying the listing of the Hong Kong shares will also be suspended.

Ant Group was gearing up to raise just under $34.5 billion in what would have been the world’s biggest public listing. It was planning on a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong on Nov. 5. It’s unclear at this stage if the Hong Kong leg will go ahead as planned.

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A spokesperson for Ant Group was not immediately available for comment. An official filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange is expected soon.

On Monday, the Chinese central bank and regulators issued new draft rules for online micro-lending, which could affect Ant Group.

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