Chinese Watchdog Asks Ant Group To Conduct Major Overhaul

Chinese regulators have ordered Ant Group, a financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, to become a financial holding company to ease financial oversight amid stepped up scrutiny of technology firms, reported ABC.

In a meeting Monday, April 12, the central bank and other financial regulators also ordered Ant to cease anti-competitive behavior in its payments business and improve its risk management and corporate governance, according to a statement on the website of the People’s Bank of China.

The guidance follows a decision by regulators last November to suspend a planned US$34.5 billion initial public offering just days before Ant’s trading debut. Officials cited changes in the regulatory environment.

Ant Group is the world’s largest financial technology company. It was valued at US$150 billion after a 2018 fundraising round, and its valuation later rose to US$280 billion ahead of its now ill-fated IPO.

The regulators told Ant to rectify unfair competition in its payments business and reduce the balance of its Yu’ebao money-market fund — which at one point was the largest in the world. It also was ordered to break its information monopoly and to minimize the collection and use of personal data and to stop any illegal credit, insurance and wealth-management activities.

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