US shoots down MoneyGram's sale to China's Ant Financial

US shoots down MoneyGram's sale to China's Ant Financial

MoneyGram International Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Ant Financial Services Group said on Tuesday they have agreed to terminate their amended merger agreement.

FILE PHOTO - A logo of Ant Financial is displayed at the Ant Financial event in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO - A logo of Ant Financial is displayed at the Ant Financial event in Hong Kong, China November 1, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/ File Photo

REUTERS: A U.S. government panel rejected Ant Financial's acquisition of MoneyGram International Inc over national security concerns, the companies said on Tuesday, the latest Chinese deal torpedoed under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The US$1.2 billion deal's collapse represents a blow for Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Chinese internet conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , who owns Ant Financial together with Alibaba executives. Ma promised Trump in January 2017 that he would create 1 million U.S. jobs.

MoneyGram shares were down 8.5 percent at US$12.06 in after-market trading.

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

A standard CFIUS review lasts 75 days, and the companies had gone through the process three times in order to address its concerns. Additional security measures and protocols that the companies suggested failed to reassure CFIUS, the sources said.

The U.S. government has toughened its stance on the sale of companies to Chinese entities, at a time when Trump is trying to put pressure on China to help tackle North Korea's nuclear ambitions and be more accommodative on trade and foreign exchange issues.

The MoneyGram deal is the latest in a string of Chinese acquisitions of U.S. companies that have failed to clear CFIUS. They include China-backed buyout fund Canyon Bridge Capital Partners LLC's US$1.3 billion acquisition of U.S. chip maker Lattice Semiconductor Corp , China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co Ltd's US$2.7 billion acquisition of U.S. life insurer Genworth Financial Inc , and Chinese buyout firm Orient Hontai Capital's US$1.4 billion acquisition of U.S. mobile marketing firm AppLovin.

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

Ant Financial and MoneyGram said they will now 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 United States.

Ant Financial clinched an US$18 per share all-cash deal to acquire MoneyGram in April, seeing off competition from U.S.-based Euronet Worldwide Inc , which had made an unsolicited offer for MoneyGram and openly lobbied U.S lawmakers, saying Ant's proposal created a national security risk.

A Euronet spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about whether Euronet would return with a new offer for MoneyGram.

Ant Financial said it paid MoneyGram a US$30 million termination fee for the deal's collapse.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by Nikhil Subba and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: Reuters