What China wants with an offensive against its own tech giants

  • Cecilia Barria
  • BBC News World

Jack Ma

Credit, Getty Images

Photo caption,

Jack Ma, co-founder of conglomerate Alibaba, was one of the first to experience the effects of the new restrictions.

Chinese tycoon Jack Ma was all set for the party.

In November 2020, the Ant Group (“ant group” in literal translation), the financial arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, would make its debut on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges with an expectation of raising $34.4 billion , the biggest IPO (acronym for “Initial Public Offering“, or initial offering of shares) of history.

At the last minute, however, Chinese regulators suspended the transaction because of “competition concerns.” That is, they cut the power, turned off the music and sent the guests home.

As a result, they demanded a restructuring of what is now China’s largest digital financial and commercial conglomerate. Its co-founder, Jack Ma, who was once hailed as a symbol of the country’s success, has been out of the spotlight for months.