Here’s your Friday edition of Asia AI News!
And, I’m afraid it’s another Ant Group special. I’ve been so stretched this week, I was tempted to duck Friday’s newsletter altogether. However, the Ant Group story this week is so extraordinary that I couldn’t miss sharing the reporting on the shelving of the group’s massive IPO.
Early this week, Ant Group’s plans to debut on both Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges seemed to be on track, heading for a listing that was bound to be the biggest IPO in history, estimated to result in between US$34 and US$39 billion dollars in proceeds.
On Monday, founder Jack Ma, Ant Group’s executive chairman, Eric Jing, and its CEO Simon Hu were summoned for a meeting with regulatory agencies.
Late Tuesday evening Shanghai Stock Exchange made the announcement that stunned China, Asia and investors worldwide: Ant Group’s IPO was suspended.
The suspension affects investors across continents. Global retail investors alone placed bids for a record $3 trillion of shares.
According to South China Morning Post, China Universal Asset Management, China Asset Management and three other mutual funds allocated 10 per cent of the 60 billion yuan ($8.9 billion) they raised in September towards buying Ant Group shares. According to media reports the fund managers have no fall-back plans.
Meanwhile, Alibaba shares slid this week, despite the company reporting third-quarter earnings on Wednesday that easily topped estimates.
Obviously, there is now a volume of reporting, comment and analysis on what happened and what the impact will be. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Shuli Ren comments
that ‘China lost a golden investment opportunity by shooting itself in the foot’. While an old China contact of mine reckons that 'Jack Ma will retire and become a high school teacher before Ant Group has its IPO.’
Post-suspension memes on the Chinese Internet include 'there is no so-called era of Mǎ Yún, only Mǎ Yún as part of the era’ and 'Wealth is an ant in front of power.” (credit: Guardian)
Below is my pick from this week’s IPO media coverage.
Have a great weekend!