US considers adding China’s Ant Group to trade blacklist

US considers adding China’s Ant Group to trade blacklist

Move comes ahead of fintech company’s jumbo IPO, sources tell Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. State Department has submitted a proposal for the Trump administration to add China’s Ant Group to a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter, before the financial technology firm is slated to go public.

It was not immediately clear when the U.S. government agencies that decide whether to add a company to the so-called Entity List would review the matter.

The move comes as China hardliners in the Trump administration are seeking to send a message to deter U.S. investors from taking part in the initial public offering for Ant Group. The dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong could be worth up to a record $35 billion.

The latest swipe at China also comes in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election, in which U.S. President Donald Trump, trailing in the polls against his Democratic rival Joe Biden, has made a tough approach to China an important foreign policy platform.

The Trump officials fear Ant could potentially give the Chinese government access to sensitive banking data belonging to U.S. users.

State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ant, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, declined to comment but in a recent statement to Reuters emphasized that only 5% of the company’s business is outside China.