Chinese mutual funds to unfreeze US$9 billion of investor capital after Ant Group’s IPO suspension

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Five Chinese mutual funds that bought into Ant Group shares will allow investors to pull their money out under a redemption programme after the Chinese government scuttled the fintech giant’s record-breaking initial public offering.

China Universal Asset Management, E Fund Management and three others will allow their fund subscribers the option to retrieve their money within a month starting from November 23, according to statements posted on their websites.

The money managers collected 60 billion yuan (US$8.9 billion) from the sale of fund units to investors ahead of Ant’s IPO. The plan allowed small investors to pool their money for a shot at the expected windfall, helping many of them to overcome the minimum 500,000 yuan needed to invest in Shanghai’s Star Market.

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Ant’s US$39.67 billion IPO attracted a combined US$3 trillion from retail investors in Shanghai and Hong Kong, before it was unexpectedly halted on November 3 some 48 hours before its debut. Ant refunded investors immediately thereafter.

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China on November 10 unveiled a new guideline to target monopolistic practices of its tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings and Meituan, wiping some US$200 billion in market value over two days. Ant operates China’s largest online payment platform Alipay. Alibaba, the owner of this newspaper, owns one-third of the fintech.

The botched IPO has frustrated millions of China’s small investors who were keen to access the fastest-growing part of China’s economy. Technology companies are seen as clear winners in a pandemic-stricken world, as more people shop online and work from home.

The resolution will help protect investors’ interest, the five mutual funds said in their statements, following consultation with the custodian banks and the fund-sale unit of Hangzhou-based Ant that marketed the IPO shares through its Alipay app.

Explainer: How an avalanche of rules buried Ant Group’s US$39.5 billion stock sale and looks set to reshape China’s fintech landscape

Each of the five funds raised 12 billion yuan in September. They spent as much as 10 per cent of the proceeds to bid for Ant’s shares, while the balance was to be invested in other stocks and bonds, according to their prospectuses. Ant’s shares would have been subjected to an 18-month lock-up.

China Universal, E Fund, China Asset Management, Penghua Fund Management and Zhong Ou Asset Management said they would perform normal investments with the money, and seek regulatory approval to trade on local exchanges.

China’s latest antitrust drive aims to curb the growing power and dominance of internet giants over traditional lenders in the economy, according to the guideline published on Tuesday. Regulators will now frown on deep discounts to squeeze competitors, colluding on sharing sensitive consumer data and market cartels. It will seek feedback from the public through November 30.

Shares of many Hong Kong-listed Chinese hi-tech companies – including Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan – that make up the Hang Seng Tech Index have plunged over two days on concerns about tightening regulatory oversight.

This article Chinese mutual funds to unfreeze US$9 billion of investor capital after Ant Group’s IPO suspension first appeared on South China Morning Post

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