Did Jack Ma screw up the Ant IPO?

November 04, 2020 10:50
Photo: Reuters

There is no dull moment for Jack Ma.

Just when he stands to become one of the world’s 10 richest men after the mega listing of Ant Group, things do not work out as he wants.

In a stunning setback, Ant Group called off the listing plan in Shanghai and Hong Kong in what was on track to be the world’s largest-ever IPO.

How disappointing were the thousands of bankers who almost pocketed the fat bonus cheque, not to mention the millions of investors – including the 1.55 million Hong Kong retail investors in the record turnout - who dreamed to make big money in Ant but only to be disappointed just hours before the allotment result was due.

Our thoughts were with the crying babies who borrowed money to subscribe to Jack Ma’s fintech company and now stand to lose interests. Approximately for every million they borrow, they would lose HK$575 assuming a three per cent interest rate.

It is hard to estimate how damaging Ant could do to the sales of Apple’s new iPhone in Hong Kong because everyone thought it was easy money given the grey market price of Ant Group was said to be up 50 per cent.
What went wrong that led to the sudden death of the hottest IPO?

Local commentaries pointed at the Bund Summit speech of Jack Ma in late October that went viral online and within the financial circle.

In the presence of Vice President Wang Qishan, Zhou Xiaochuan, former Governor of the People's Bank of China, and Yi Gang, current Governor of the People's Bank of China, Ma criticized traditional banks for operating with a “pawn shop” mentality, saying that they will be unable to support the financial needs of the future world.

Imagine how many honchos of mainland financial institutions would laugh before they went to bed.

Ma continued his assault by referring to the Basel Accords — a set of internationally agreed banking supervision regulations — as a “club for the elderly”, stating that these regulations should not apply to China, which does not have a mature financial ecosystem yet.

He went further by saying the world now only focused on “risk control”, not “development”.

Now Ant is going nowhere and might take a while before its comeback.

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EJ Insight writer