- Ant Group is poised to create a credit score JV with Chinese state-backed partners, Reuters reported
- This move could enable the Alibaba-owned fintech giant to proceed with its blockbuster IPO, abandoned in November.
- Chinese regulators had turned up the pressure and ordered Ant Group to restructure before going public.
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Ant Group’s $US35 ($AU48) billion initial public offering could be back on the table, now that the fintech is poised to create a joint venture with a group of Chinese government-backed firms, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The partners intend to establish the joint venture, a provider of personal credit scores, as early as October, three people told Reuters, according to the report. Four companies are set to take a stake in the JV alongside Ant Group, three of them state-backed.
The move could put Ant Group, the tech affiliate of Jack Ma’s Alibaba, in a position to comply with Beijing’s wishes and so put it on course to revive its dual IPO.
Financial authorities blocked Ant Group’s highly anticipated IPO on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges in November, saying the Chinese financial-services company might no longer meet disclosure requirements. The listing aimed to raise $US34.5 ($AU47) billion and would have valued Ant Group at more than $US313 ($AU428) billion.
In April, Chinese regulators ordered Ant Group, the tech affiliate of Jack Ma’s Alibaba, to restructure before it could be allowed to go public. It was told to change parts of its business and to return to its roots as a payments services provider.
The planned JV could address some of the requirements regulators have set for Ant Group, which owns China’s largest digital payments platform Alipay. It would also give Beijing some access to the vast amounts of personal data held by the fintech.
The JV will collect, manage and analyze consumer data to give a score to a customer’s credit standing. Under its new structure, the firm would deal Ant Group’s business data operations in a way that would make regulatory control for authorities easier, according to the Reuters report. The fintech’s booming micro-lending business would be scrutinized more closely, it said.
Ant Group received official approval to develop a consumer finance business with state-backed minority shareholders in June. It will have a 35% stake in the JV, as will state-backed Zhejiang Tourism Investment Group, Reuters reported. Two other state investors will hold 5% each, bringing the Beijing-backed firms to a total of 45%. The single non-government-linked partner would control around 7%.
Ant Group had not responded to Insider’s request for comment at time of publication.
China has stepped up regulations for tech and other key sectors this year to increase its grip on growing industries. The country’s five-year plan set out in August targets tech innovation, monopolies, internet finance and big data as industries that should expect tighter rules.
The regulatory crackdown has sent Chinese tech stocks tumbling, including shares in Ant Group parent company Alibaba.
At the end of the trading day in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Alibaba shares had fallen 0.18% to 165.20 Hong Kong dollars ($US21.24 ($AU29)). Its New York traded shares were last up by 3.83% as of 10:52 am E.T.