Ant’s IPO was suspended at the last minute on Nov. 3 after Ma was summoned to speak with regulators. The sudden focus on Ant was a surprise to a lot of investors, but since early 2017, Beijing has been on a campaign to defuse risks in China’s $53 trillion financial system. (It’s also wary of executives who get very rich, powerful, and outspoken. Ma has been all three.) Regulators have already clamped down on peer-to-peer lenders, overleveraged conglomerates, and embattled regional banks. The Ant episode was a sign that they’ve trained their sights on the fast- evolving world of fintech companies, which until recently have benefited from a light regulatory touch.
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