Jack Ma's personal wealth drops US$3 billion after Ant Group IPO freeze

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Jack Ma was poised to become Asia’s richest person with Ant Group’s public offering. Instead his net worth has tumbled almost US$3 billion (S$4.1 billion) and both retail and institutional investors who were betting on a big first-day pop are in limbo.

Alibaba Group Holding’s US-traded shares slid 8.1 per cent in New York trading on Tuesday (Nov 3) after Ant said its listings in both Shanghai and Hong Kong have been suspended.

Ma, a 56-year-old former English teacher who co-founded Alibaba with US$60,000 and turned it into China’s largest e-commerce company, would have leaped up the wealth rankings with Ant’s planned US$37 billion share sale.

The IPO was the most anticipated in years, attracting at least US$3 trillion in orders for its dual listing. The stampede for shares had fueled predictions of a big first-day jump and sparked a frenzy among individual investors in China clamouring for a piece. The sale would also have boosted the fortunes of a group of early investors and employees, with more than a dozen other people slated to become billionaires.

Ma owns 4.2 per cent of Alibaba, which owns about a third of the fintech company that was expected to begin trading on Thursday. The Shanghai stock exchange suspended Ant’s listing after Ma was called in for “supervisory interviews” by related agencies, it said in a statement on Tuesday. Ant said the Hong Kong offering was frozen soon after.

Even with today’s drop, Ma still has a fortune of about US$54 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. Ant’s other wealthy backers include Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, the family behind a French supermarket giant, the son of a Taiwanese real estate billionaire and Chinese retail tycoon Shen Guojun.

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