China said to lower fine on Ant Group to $727m

Asian Tech Press (Apr 19) -- Chinese regulators are considering reducing the fine on Ant Group to about 5 billion yuan ($727 million), according to an exclusive Reuters report.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report said Chinese regulators expect to reduce the fine on Ant Group by about a quarter from the more than $1 billion initially planned, and are now considering a fine of about 5 billion yuan, while downgrading their charges against it.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) may announce the fine in the coming months, the sources said. The regulator has been pushing for reforms to Ant Group after its $37 billion IPO in 2020 failed.

The report noted that the fine would help pave the way for the Chinese fintech giant to obtain its long-awaited financial holding company licence, seek growth and eventually resume plans to go public.

Ant Group founder Jack Ma returned to mainland China at the end of March after spending more than a year overseas since he failed in the IPO. After the billionaire entrepreneur's return, Ant Group received a scaled-back fine, indicating a softening of Beijing's approach to the private sector.

This will also coincide with China's efforts to boost the confidence of private entrepreneurs while stimulating growth in the $17 trillion economy hit by COVID-19, the sources said.

The lower fine would also help reduce any negative impact on Ant Group and the Chinese fintech sector, given the size of its business and its importance to the industry, the sources added.

However, they cautioned that the amount of the fine is still subject to change.

(US$1 = 6.8775 yuan)

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