U.S. should try to delay IPO of China’s Ant Group, Senator Rubio says

By Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Marco Rubio, who has successfully urged the Trump administration to pursue investigations of Chinese companies, called on Friday for the U.S. government to consider options to delay an initial public offering of China’s Ant Group, the fintech arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

“It’s outrageous that Wall Street is rewarding the Chinese Communist Party’s blatant crackdown on Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy by orchestrating Ant Group’s IPO on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges,” Rubio, a Republican, said in a statement to Reuters.

“The Administration should take a serious look at the options available to delay Ant Group’s IPO,” he added.

The Hong Kong leg of the IPO, part of a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, is being sponsored by China International Capital Corp, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley. Credit Suisse is working as a joint global coordinator. Goldman Sachs is also involved.

Ant declined to comment on Rubio’s remarks, but said its business was primarily in China and it is excited about growth prospects there.

It was not immediately clear how the U.S. government could postpone the listing of a Chinese company abroad. But Rubio’s remarks are a sign of growing pressure among China hardliners in Congress, within the administration and elsewhere, for President Donald Trump to sanction Ant before it lists later this month.

Some fear the offering, worth up to $30 billion, could expose scores of U.S. investors to fraud. Others fear it could give the Chinese government access to sensitive banking data belonging to U.S. citizens.

“These digital payment systems are the source of well-founded national security concerns, and the Trump administration should move to protect American users’ sensitive financial data as quickly as possible,” Republican Representative Jim Banks said in a statement when asked whether