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A Tortoise File

Chinese Capitalism

Jack Ma’s fintech company Ant Group was set for one of the biggest stock market launches in history. Then China’s ruling party took offence.

Chinese Capitalism

First published
Monday 9 November 2020

Last updated
Tuesday 17 November 2020

Why this story?

Until last week Jack Ma was on course to cement his status as a Chinese business icon and serial creator of billionaires in his own maverick image. Then he collided with the Chinese state.

After a brief, tense meeting with government officials, the flotation of Ma’s online financial services giant, Ant Group, was suspended. It was going to be the biggest IPO in history. Now it’s unclear if it will happen at all.

What went wrong? What does it mean for business in China? What does it mean for Ma? Rui Ma – no relation, but deeply immersed in the Chinese fintech revolution – went in search of answers. Giles Whittell, editor