• By The Financial District


China’s securities regulator is probing a potential conflict of interest in fintech giant Ant Group’s planned $35 billion stock listing, delaying approval for what could be the world’s largest IPO, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said, Julie Zhu and Zhang Yan reported for Reuters

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is looking into the role of Alipay, Ant’s flagship payment platform, as the only third-party channel through which retail investors could buy into five Chinese mutual funds investing in the IPO, the people told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

The arrangement sidelined banks and brokerages, the traditional route for retail investors to buy into funds. More than 10 million retail investors piled money into the five mutual funds when they were launched in late September, underscoring the marketing clout of Alipay. 

The CSRC said in guidelines effective from Oct. 1 that mutual fund distributors should avoid conflicts of interest form selling products related to their other existing and potential businesses. The people said the probe was unlikely to derail the IPO, although it was unclear what its outcome might be.