By: The FT

October 8, 2020

Control technology and finance and one controls the future. Huawei and ByteDance are some of the key Chinese tech companies that have suffered setbacks from US restrictions. When it comes to China’s financial sector, restrictions on Ant Group, the Alibaba fintech affiliate — not the banks — would cause the greatest damage.

Reports that the Trump administration is exploring national security-related restrictions on the digital payment platforms of Ant Group and Tencent should not come as a surprise. Again, restrictions on doing business with Ant would hurt US companies.

America’s Vanguard has already set up an investment advisory partnership there with Ant. More pressing, how will this looming threat affect Ant’s $35bn Hong Kong and Shanghai IPO, which should start taking subscriptions in the next couple of weeks? Expected to be the world’s largest listing, bankers hope for a market valuation of more than $250bn — more than many global banks. That would put Ant on about 31 times this year’s expected earnings, much cheaper than Visa, Mastercard or PayPal.