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U.S. rejects MoneyGram sale to China's Ant Financial

By Sheetal Sukhija, Abu Dhabi News
04 Jan 2018, 05:51 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - In what became the most high-profile Chinese deal to be torpedoed under the U.S. Trump administration, a U.S. government panel rejected Ant Financial’s acquisition of MoneyGram International Inc.

The companies said on Tuesday that the deal was rejected over national security concerns.

According to sources familiar with the confidential discussions, the companies terminated the deal after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) rejected their proposals to mitigate concerns over the safety of data that can be used to identify U.S. citizens.

MoneyGram Chief Executive Alex Holmes said in a statement, “Despite our best efforts to work cooperatively with the U.S. government, it has now become clear that CFIUS will not approve this merger.”

Sources noted that while a standard CFIUS review lasts up to 75 days, the companies had gone through the process three times in order to address concerns. 

Adding that the additional security measures and protocols that the companies suggested had failed to reassure CFIUS.

Declining to comment on the MoneyGram deal, the U.S. Treasury said it is prohibited by statute from disclosing information filed with CFIUS.

The collapse of the $1.2 billion deal to acquire the U.S. money transfer company by China’s Ant Financial represents a blow for Jack Ma.

Jack Ma is the executive chairman of the Chinese internet conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, who owns Ant Financial together with Alibaba executives. 

According to reports, Jack Ma had been looking to expand Ant Financial’s footprint amid fierce domestic competition from Chinese rival Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat payment platform.

In a meeting a year back, Ma had promised Trump that he would create 1 million U.S. jobs.

On Tuesday, in after-market trading, MoneyGram shares were down 8.5 percent at $12.06.

Meanwhile, Ant Financial and MoneyGram said they will explore and develop initiatives to work together in remittance and digital payments in China, India, the Philippines and other Asian markets, as well as in the U.S.

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