China's Xi decided to halt Ant's IPO - WSJ

The Wall Street Journal reports that China's President Xi Jinping personally intervened to stop Ant Group's initial public offering.

The Journal's Thursday story cites Chinese officials with knowledge of the matter.

Ant's IPO on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges was expected to help the digital payment company raise 37 billion dollars, the largest ever stock market debut, before it was dramatically pulled at the last minute.

The decision to suspend the listing came just days after Ant's billionaire founder, Jack Ma, launched a public attack against China's financial watchdogs.

Ma told a summit in Shanghai on October 24th that innovation was being stifled by regulators.

The speech set off a chain of events that torpedoed Ant's listing.

According to the Journal, President Xi personally ordered Chinese regulators to investigate and efffectively shut down Ant's stock market flotation.

The newspaper says that state regulators began compiling reports, including one on how Ant had used digital financial products to encourage poor and young people to build up debt.

Ant's lucrative online lending business makes up almost 40% of the company's overall revenue.

Ant Group did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

And the Information Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, could not be reached immediately for comment.