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Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

China's suspension of Ant Group’s $35 billion IPO is "just the beginning of a renewed campaign by China to rein in the fintech empire controlled by Jack Ma," Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Details: "Authorities are now setting their sights on Ant’s biggest source of revenue: its credit platforms that funnel loans from banks and other financial institutions to millions of consumers across China," the article noted, citing unnamed sources.

Why it matters: Ant Group's IPO wasn't just set to be the biggest of all time, it was meant to serve as a tentpole of China's growing influence in the global financial sphere.

  • As Axios' Felix Salmon notes: "Ant provides the technology that powers much of the Chinese economy, from borrowing to saving to investments to insurance. A failure of its systems could have devastating consequences for hundreds of millions of people."

What's next: Bloomberg also reports that the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission "plans to discourage lenders from using Ant’s platforms and has already asked some to ensure their portfolios are compliant with stringent draft regulations announced on Monday."

  • The proposed measures call for platform operators to provide at least 30% of the funding for loans. That would render many of Ant’s existing transactions noncompliant, as the company currently keeps only about 2% of loans on its own balance sheet. The rest of the loans are funded by third parties or packaged as securities and sold.

Be smart: All this could probably have been avoided had Ma not railed against financial regulators, said that financial regulation was outdated, and claimed technology companies should not be subject to regulation in recent remarks.

  • The suspension of the IPO puts into limbo bids of nearly $3 trillion from retail investors in China, who play a much bigger role in financial markets than their U.S. counterparts, and a $400 million expected payday for the banks assisting with the listing.
  • The suspension also gut-punched shares of Ant Group's parent company, Alibaba, which will keep an ownership stake of one-third of Ant after the IPO, and Chinese tech companies broadly.

Go deeper

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.