China called a sudden halt to the world’s biggest initial public offering, casting uncertainty over the future of financial-technology giant Ant Group Co. and delivering an extraordinary rebuke to its controlling shareholder, Jack Ma.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended Ant’s blockbuster IPO late Tuesday, a day after four regulatory agencies summoned Mr. Ma and the company’s top two executives to a closed-door meeting.

The meeting and a changing regulatory environment constitute major events that have disqualified Ant from listing this Thursday, the bourse said.

The company said a concurrent Hong Kong listing would also be suspended. Ant plans to return the funds it has collected from investors who subscribed to its IPO, which had been on track to raise at least $34.4 billion in total. “Ant Group apologizes for the trouble this has caused investors,” it said in a post on Chinese social media.

The development marks a stunning turnaround for Ant, the world’s most valuable technology startup, and Mr. Ma, its 56-year-old billionaire co-founder. The owner of the popular Chinese mobile-payments network Alipay had been going full steam ahead for months in preparation for the IPO, which would have beat the record $29.4 billion raised by Saudi Aramco last year while bypassing the biggest exchanges in the U.S.


Initial public offering, Jack Ma, Alibaba Group, Finance, Shanghai Stock Exchange, China

World news – US – Ant’s Record IPO Suspended in Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges

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