The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and regulators from three Chinese agencies are interviewing Ant Group Founder Jack Ma, Chairman Eric Jing, and CEO Simon Hu about the upcoming $37 billion initial public offering (IPO), according to a Financial Times report on Monday (Nov. 2).
Shares are scheduled to begin trading on Thursday (Nov. 5).
The PBOC, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the Securities Regulatory Commission and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a brief statement, per FT, that they had “conducted regulatory interviews with Ant Group’s actual controller Jack Ma, Chairman Eric Jing and Chief Executive Simon Hu.”
Last month, in a speech at the Bund Summit in Shanghai, Ma criticized Chinese regulators for excessive oversight of banking and financial technology, according to the FT.
Ant’s IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong is expected to be the world’s biggest. Ma is the founder of China’s eCommerce giant Alibaba, an Ant Group affiliate, and is the richest man in China and the 12th richest in the world. The IPO could add an estimated $27 billion to his fortune, making Ma worth $68 billion.
More than 5 million people made orders in Shanghai for stock, reportedly a new high for IPOs on the STAR Market, which was launched in 2019. The coming IPO could value Ant at an estimated $316 billion, according to the FT.
The pending IPO could also give its group of foreign investors a multibillion-dollar payday. Ant’s third funding round in 2018 raised $10.3 billion from foreign investors. Top investors like the sovereign-wealth funds of Singapore and Malaysia invested $500 million each. Three top mutual fund managers invested $200 million-$500 million each.
The IPO had faced regulatory delays earlier this month over investors’ alleged exposure to the public sale through five funds sold on Ant’s mobile app, Alipay. Alipay was designated as the exclusive, third-party distributor. The five funds in question have reported raising nearly $9 billion.