Chinese regulators have told state-owned firms to check their investments in, and identify other links with, billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group, sources have claimed.
State-owned banks and non-bank firms are among the entities that have been asked by regulatory authorities to make the checks, the sources said.
The request came last week, it’s claimed. But it was not immediately clear if the firms have been given a deadline to submit the information nor what action, if any, will be taken after that.
Ant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, has been subjected to a sweeping restructuring by the top financial officials after they derailed the group’s initial public offering (IPO) in November 2020, which, at $37 billion, would have been the world’s largest.
Since the IPO’s cancellation, Ant, controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire founder Ma, has embarked on a regulatory-driven rejig that will see it become a financial holding company.
The latest regulatory move comes as authorities continue to roll out new initiatives for the country’s technology sector, which has been subjected to a year-long crackdown, to keep financial risks under control.
The move also added to investor concerns that Beijing could continue with its clampdown this year, triggering a sell-off in the technology sector on Tuesday. Alibaba shares dropped as much as 5.3% to their lowest since January 28.
Shares in Alibaba, which is also listed in New York, had rallied late last year with investors betting that the central government would relax its scrutiny over Ma’s business empire.
In the latest move, regulatory authorities have asked state-owned firms to submit details of investments in equities, and exposure to asset-backed securities, and loans in relation to Ant. Ant declined to comment.
Last month, China Cinda Asset Management Co Ltd, one of the four biggest state-owned asset management companies (AMCs) in China, announced that it was scrapping a planned Ant investment.
Cinda had planned to buy a 20% stake worth about $944 million in Ant Group’s consumer finance arm, because of pressure from state authorities, people with knowledge of the matter had said.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara