Jack Ma’s Ant Group Hit by Flurry of New Rules Ahead of Mega IPO

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(Bloomberg) — Ant Group was dealt another blow by yet more regulations to contain risks in the country’s burgeoning online lending industry as Jack Ma’s financial technology giant prepares for its initial public offering.China’s banking watchdog on Wednesday issued fresh rules to cap the use of asset-backed securities to fund quick consumer loans, which will force Ant in particular to rein in that part of its business. The new regulation limits that sort of funding to four times a firm’s net assets, while Ant currently has 4.7 times such debt against its capital.The rules add to a barrage of recent steps by regulators to rein in consumer borrowing and reduce risks. Regulators have also capped loan rates and imposed new capital and license requirements on Ant and other conglomerates. The firm is preparing to sell shares to the public and is said to seek to raise as much as $30 billion, gunning for the largest IPO ever.“I don’t think these rules are necessarily aimed at Ant itself, but Ant’s sprawling finance empire make it an easy target in a regulatory campaign against risks, especially in the online consumer lending sector,” said Dong Ximiao, …

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