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China's Ant Financial pushes US to approve MoneyGram deal

MoneyGram shares fell 1.2% to $15.92 in New York trading Friday

Reuters 

MoneyGram
A logo of Ant Financial is displayed at the Ant Financial event in Hong Kong, China

is expected to make a third try for US approval of its takeover of as a secretive national security panel throws up hurdles for Chinese investors seeking to buy American companies.

The former affiliate of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding is preparing to resubmit the $1.2 billion deal for review before the US Committee on Foreign Investment, or CFIUS, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public.

The preparations underscore the trouble Chinese buyers face in persuading the panel that investigates foreign acquisitions to greenlight takeovers. President Trump this week killed a Chinese investment fund’s purchase of Lattice Semiconductor, which went before three times without winning approval. The panel is now considering at least two other major deals involving Chinese acquirers.

Ant failed to win security clearance from for its deal announced in January after an initial 75-day review period. It resubmitted its request and now faces the expiration of a second 75-day period for consideration.

“We are not commenting on the process, but we are continuing to work with the various regulatory agencies and remain focused on closing the transaction by the end of the year,” Ant said Friday in an emailed statement.

A representative for declined to comment. reviews are confidential and the panel doesn’t confirm or comment on its work.

The prolonged review comes amid heightened political tensions. The Trump administration has upheld a hard line against Chinese takeovers of American businesses, even as it seeks China’s aid to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

shares fell 1.2 per cent to $15.92 in New York trading Friday.

Ant is a behemoth in China, providing services from wealth management and insurance to credit checks and consumer loans.

Two members of the House of Representatives have urged to conduct a “full and thorough” investigation of the deal, arguing it could give access to critical US financial infrastructure. In addition to collecting and retaining confidential information from customers, wire transfer services such as handle confidential requests from the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network about transactions that may be linked to terrorism or money laundering.

Ant has disputed assertions that US security would be compromised, citing its plans to keep MoneyGram’s headquarters, management team and employees in Dallas. The company said MoneyGram’s servers — and the data stored — would also remain in the US.

It’s rare for recommendations to halt a deal to make it to the president because companies typically walk away from a transaction to avoid being branded a national security threat.

First Published: Sat, September 16 2017. 23:33 IST
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