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Billionaire Jack Ma pays high price for challenging regulators

Suspension of Ant Group IPO followed speech criticizing global banking standards

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of fintech giant Ant Group Co. Ltd., appears to have paid an extremely high price for challenging China's financial regulators.

A speech he gave on Oct. 24 criticizing global banking standards and the Chinese regulatory system raised red flags about the risks posed by Ant Group and other online microlenders and triggered a rush to finalize long-planned draft rules for tightening supervision, sources close to financial regulators told Caixin. The draft was issued on Nov. 2, just three days before trading in Ant Group shares was due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong, leading to the suspension of the company's record-breaking $34.5 billion IPO.

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