China’s richest man Jack Ma loses £2bn after Ant float is blocked

China’s richest man Jack Ma had more than £2billion wiped off his fortune in one day after Beijing blocked Ant Group’s blockbuster float.

Shares in his e-commerce giant Alibaba, which owns a third of the payments group Ant, tumbled by 10 per cent after the listing was suspended at the 11th hour.

The drop erased £2.2billion from Ma’s fortune and scuppered his chances of becoming Asia’s richest person.

Rocker: Alibaba chairman Jack Ma performs at the firm's 20th anniversary celebration in September. Shares tumbled by 10 per cent after its float was suspended at the 11th hour

Rocker: Alibaba chairman Jack Ma performs at the firm's 20th anniversary celebration in September. Shares tumbled by 10 per cent after its float was suspended at the 11th hour

Rocker: Alibaba chairman Jack Ma performs at the firm’s 20th anniversary celebration in September. Shares tumbled by 10 per cent after its float was suspended at the 11th hour

The 56-year-old’s total wealth, however, is still £44.8billion – although it was set to almost double following the listing.

Ma has become the world’s 18th richest person after launching Alibaba in the late 1990s. 

But he could have become the third wealthiest, squeezed between Bill Gates and Elon Musk, if the £26billion float had gone ahead.

Beijing said last night it had pulled the plug to protect the ‘stability’ of China’s capital markets and to ‘protect investors’ interests’.

The decision was made shortly after new financial regulations were issued.

And it came after Ma and Ant’s executive chairman, Eric Jing, had been grilled by officials from China’s central bank, securities regulator and other agencies.

Ma had recently accused the country’s state-owned lenders of being outdated, saying that they were stifling innovation

Ant shares were due to start trading today in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The flotation would have been the world’s biggest listing, beating Saudi Aramco’s £19.4billion float last December.

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