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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

China is the biggest business story on Election Day in America.

What's happening: The country abruptly pulled the plug on Ant Group's IPO, which was expected to happen Thursday and be the biggest public offering ever.

Why it matters: Although the IPO would have helped catapult the financial industry toward China, the country suspended the offering at the last minute in an apparent rebuke to billionaire Jack Ma, Ant's controlling shareholder.

  • The anticipated $35 billion offering would have also been a landmark moment for Xi Jinping's nascent Nasdaq-like "STAR" stock exchange.

How we got here:

  • Aug. 24: Ant files IPO prospectus.
  • Sep. 16: China’s banking watchdog issues new rules to cap the use of asset-backed securities to fund quick consumer loans — a move that impacted Ant.
  • Oct. 18: China securities commission gives Ant the green light for its IPO plan.
  • Oct. 21: Hong Kong's exchange approves Ant IPO.
  • Oct. 25: Ma gives a speech criticizing international banking regulations, saying the rules are being enforced by "an old people's club."
  • Oct. 26: Ant discloses plan to raise $34.4 billion in the IPO, or roughly $17.2 billion in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
  • Nov. 2: The Wall Street Journal and other outlets report Ma, along with Ant Groups' chairman and CEO, met with four regulatory bodies in China — including its central bank.
  • Today: The Shanghai Stock Exchange says Ant no longer meets the requirements to be listed. Ant subsequently pulls the Hong Kong listing.

Where it stands: China-watchers say skepticism from China's regulators about Ant is less at play here than are politics around founder Ma's sharp critical statements on financial regulation in the country made during a late October speech.

  • What they're saying: "To do this so late and this dramatically, it had to be a political decision," the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Jim Lewis tells Axios.

The big picture: The listing was set to lure investors from all around the globe. Small investors submitted an eye-popping $2.8 trillion worth of orders for the stock.

  • It would have been the most high-profile company to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange Science and Technology Innovation Board, a bourse launched last year at the request of Xi in an attempt to compete with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite.

The public market reaction: Shares of Alibaba, which owns one-third of Ant, were hit hard by the news, with the stock closing down more than 8%.

  • Alibaba's stock price hit all-time highs in recent weeks in anticipation of the Ant IPO.

Worth noting: China-based online lender and web investment company Lufax — which was met with a volatile market debut when it started trading in the U.S. last week — said in a statement it didn't expect China's new regulations to have an impact on its business.

  • Lufax shares fell 10%.

What to watch: Alibaba reports earnings on Thursday. Ant's scrapped IPO is expected
to come up in the company's call with analysts that morning.

Go deeper

Coinbase settles on direct listing to go public

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading company, said Thursday that its public debut will be a direct listing instead of a traditional IPO.

Why it matters: Coinbase's public listing has been hotly anticipated as a potential tipping point for the cryptocurrency industry to go mainstream. The direct listing route — which allows existing shareholders to sell their stock into the market while the company doesn't raise new funds — has been slowly gaining more traction with Palantir and Asana as the latest to go that direction.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Biden to waive sanctions on company in charge of Nord Stream 2

Angela Merkel (left) with Vladimir Putin. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

The Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, according to two sources briefed on the decision.

Why it matters: The decision indicates the Biden administration is not willing to compromise its relationship with Germany over this pipeline, and underscores the difficulties President Biden faces in matching actions to rhetoric on a tougher approach to Russia.