When China’s leader Xi Jinping canceled Ant Group’s initial public offering late last year, his motives seemed clear: He was concerned that Ant was adding risk to the financial system and was furious at its founder, Jack Ma, for criticize his exclusive campaign to strengthen finances. surveillance.
There was another key reason, according to more than a dozen Chinese government officials and advisers: growing unrest in Beijing over Ant’s complex ownership structure, and the people who would benefit the most from what would have been the world’s largest IPO.
In the weeks leading up to the fintech giant’s scheduled IPO date, a previously unreported central government investigation found that Ant’s IPO prospect concealed the complexity of ownership of the company, officials said. and government advisers, who had knowledge of the investigation. Behind layers of opaque investment vehicles that own stakes in the company are a well-connected circle of Chinese power players, including some with ties to political families who pose a potential challenge to President Xi and his inner circle.
These people, along with Mr. Ma and the company’s top managers, could pocket billions of dollars from a listing that would have valued the company at more than $ 300 billion.
During his eight years as president, Xi has sidelined many of his rivals, and his grip on power is now compared to Mao Zedong’s.