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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.

Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe

A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes to retire, will be CEO of Trump media org

Rep. Devin Nunes. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will retire at the end of the year and become CEO of Trump's new media organization.

Why it matters: Nunes, once considered a moderate member of the party, became one of the fiercest defenders of former President Donald Trump throughout both of Trump's impeachments and the Intel committee's Russia investigation.