The proposed acquisition of global payment service MoneyGram by Alibaba’s Ant Financial is off after the U.S. government blocked the $1.2 billion deal.
Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate which controls Alipay — China’s top mobile wallet — and other financial services, announced a deal to buy MoneyGram in April 2017 after it beat off a rival bid from Euronet. Ant initially bid for MoneyGram in January 2017 as a means to develop its cross-border payment network into the U.S., and major corridors including India and the Philippines, but instead it will “explore and develop initiatives” to collaborate with MoneyGram’s business.
“The geopolitical environment has changed considerably since we first announced the proposed transaction with Ant Financial nearly a year ago. Despite our best efforts to work cooperatively with the U.S. government, it has now become clear that CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] will not approve this merger,” MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes said in a statement.
“Establishing this new strategic cooperation with MoneyGram will add a partner with global remittance capabilities to our ecosystem and, while Ant Financial won’t have a direct ownership relationship with MoneyGram, we look forward to working closely with the MoneyGram team to make our platform even more accessible – particularly to unbanked and underserved communities globally – and create even better experiences for our customers,” added Doug Feagin, President of Ant Financial International.
Per terms of the agreement, Ant has paid $30 million to MoneyGram for terminating the acquisition process.
MoneyGram’s share price dropped by around 10 percent to $12.02 on the news, before recovering to around $12.40 in out-of-hours trading at the time of writing.
The deal is a blow to Ant, which spent much of 2017 developing its mobile payment network beyond China and into Southeast Asia, India, Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia with a series of partnerships and investments. MoneyGram not only added the U.S. to that strategy, but it had the potential to give Ant a physical network of cross-border offices and a much large slice of the global cross-payment industry. But now it is not to be, and it will be interesting to see what approach Ant — which is hotly-tipped to go public in a massive IPO — will take to fill the void beyond this new “strategic business cooperation” with MoneyGram.
The collapse of the deal marks a second China-led acquisition of a U.S. tech company to have failed during U.S. President Trump’s tenure. Back in September, a private equity group was blocked from purchasing Lattice Semiconductor due to potential security risks. Prior to the Trump administration, just three deals had been blocked over the past 27 years.