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Ant Group’s record $34.5 billion IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong is suspended

A logo of Ant Group is seen at the company’s headquarters on October 9, 2020 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.

Ding Junhao | Visual China Group | Getty Images

SHANGHAI, China — Ant Group’s world record-setting initial public offering (IPO) in Shanghai and Hong Kong has been suspended.

The Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges made the announcement on Tuesday. Alibaba, which owns a roughly 33% stake in Ant Group, saw its shares fall over 8% in pre-market trading.

Ant Group’s controller Jack Ma, the 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 November 5. It’s unclear at this stage if the Hong Kong leg will go ahead as planned.

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.

In a statement, an Alibaba spokesperson said the company would support Ant Group through the regulatory hurdles.

"We will be proactive in supporting Ant Group to adapt to and embrace the evolving regulatory framework,” the spokesperson said. "We have full confidence in Ant Group colleagues’ ability to do a good job. Society has high expectations for Alibaba. We will continue to work hard to not only meet but exceed expectations and fulfill our responsibility to society.”