According to Bloomberg, Chinese authorities told the nation’s biggest state-owned firms and banks to start a fresh round of checks on their financial exposure and other links to Ant Group Co., renewing scrutiny of billionaire Jack Ma’s financial empire.
The SOEs and banks were told to closely examine all exposure they had to Ant, its subsidiaries and its shareholders until January; and to report on their findings as soon as possible. It is not clear what has triggered the new scrutiny in Ant Group or whether it will lead to any actions or conclusions by regulators.
The renewed scrutiny comes more than a year after the Chinese government halted Ant’s USD 35 billion IPO, following which the company was penalised for antitrust violations and ordered to overhaul its businesses and set up a financial holding company that would be regulated like a bank.
As part of its restructuring, Ant has bolstered its capital base to CNY 35 billion, introduced firewalls in its online ecosystem of products and services, separated loan services under its Huabei and Jiebei brands, and reduced the size of its popular money market fund Yu’ebao by more than a third.
The restructuring process was delayed last month after state-owned bad-debt manager China Cinda Asset Management backed out of a plan to take a major stake in Ant’s new consumer finance unit.