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Ant Group is a Chinese financial services company co-founded by Jack Ma, the billionaire entrepreneur behind Alibaba.
Over the past decade, Ant has grown into a one-stop-shop for payments, financial investments, loan guarantees, and many other financial services. The company has built a reputation for its wide range of offerings, allowing users to do everything from paying restaurant bills to building investment portfolios. Since 2014, Ant has accumulated over 700 million monthly users.
Ant’s rapid success led to an initial public offering (IPO) scheduled to be launched in November 2020. It was the largest IPO in history.
But a few weeks before the IPO, Jack Ma gave a speech in which he said the Chinese-led banking industry has a “pawnshop mentality,” implying that the government is too risk-averse. and slow to innovate.
A few days later, the government withdrew the Ant Group’s IPO.
Emily Feng is NPR’s correspondent in Beijing and she is joining the show to tell the story of Ant’s initial public offering and what it reveals about the Chinese economy.