Trump Administration May Blacklist China's Ant Group: Reuters

October 15, 2020 9:46 am

Beijing (PingWest)—The US State Department has submitted a proposal for the Trump administration to add Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, to a trade blacklist, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The Trump officials fear Ant Group could potentially give the Chinese government access to sensitive banking data belonging to US users, said the report.

It was not immediately clear when the US government agencies that decide whether to add a company to the so-called Entity List would review the matter.

The move comes as China hardliners in the Trump administration are seeking to send a message to deter US investors from taking part in the IPO for Ant Group. The dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong could be worth up to a record $35 billion.

Senator Marco Rubio called last week for the US government to consider options to delay Ant Group's IPO.

The company's Hong Kong IPO is being sponsored by China International Capital Corp, Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley. Goldman Sachs is also involved.

Citing three people familiar with the matter, Reuters said on Tuesday that China's securities regulator is probing a potential conflict of interest in Ant Group's stock listing and delayed the approval for what could be the world's largest IPO.

“We are making steady progress in the regulatory approval processes in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Just like any other A+H IPOs, Ant does not have a definitive timeline for the process. Any speculation on our timeline is unsubstantiated,” a spokesperson for Ant Group told PingWest.

Headquartered in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Ant Group is the largest mobile payment company in China, providing loans, payments, insurance, and asset management services through mobile apps.

Ant Group’s Alipay payment platform used primarily by Chinese citizens with accounts in renminbi. Most of its US interactions are with merchants accepting payment from Chinese travelers and businesses in the country.