Sunday, 21 January, 2018

MoneyGram Sale to Ant Financial Blocked by US

Chinese firm abandons plan to merge with Dallas-based MoneyGram as US regulators raise red flags MoneyGram, Alibaba unit merger killed off
Bennie Garza | 13 January, 2018, 01:54

Alex Holmes, chief executive officer of MoneyGram, cited a "change in the geopolitical environment" since it first announced the proposed transaction past year. The company claims 30,000 locations in the USA and more than 350,000 in countries around the world. This was the third time for CFIUS to review the plan, after Ant Financial revised its original offer twice to try to mitigate the agency's concerns.

A US government panel's decision to block Ant Financial's $1.2 billion acquisition of MoneyGram International Inc.is another indication that goodwill built during President Donald Trump's November Beijing trip is fading, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency. 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.

Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, was looking to expand Ant Financial's payment platform to compete against Tencent's WeChat platform by acquiring Moneygram, a global payment platform.

The chiefs of MoneyGram and Ant Financial said the sale was canceled after opposition from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Last spring, two U.S. House of Representatives members said the acquisition would give China access to the financial infrastructure of the U.S. The takeover would potentially allow "malicious actors" to obtain data on U.S. military personnel and their families who use the service, the lawmakers said. The Hangzhou-based company then beat a competing bid from United States money-transfer rival Euronet by sweetening its offer from $880 million to $1.2 billion. In accordance with the Merger Agreement, simultaneous with termination of the agreement, Ant Financial paid MoneyGram a $30 million termination fee. "These are all passive, non-controlling stakes, and none of these investors participate in management or have board representation".

MoneyGram and Ant Financial also announced that the two plan to work together on new initiatives in the digital payment market that will directly help achieve both their objective to gain global consumers regardless of the merger.

Such firms that want to work more closely together better get used to developing workarounds.

Ant and MoneyGram terminated their deal after CFIUS rejected their proposals to address data safety concerns, according to sources familiar with the confidential discussions.

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