MoneyGram, Alibaba unit merger killed off

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The current USA administration has taken a tough stance on the sale of US companies to Chinese entities, with the MoneyGram deal the latest to fall through.

Donald Trump has rejected the $1.2bn acquisition of Texan money transfer company Moneygram by China's Ant Financial citing national security concerns.

"We don't think this is the start of a trend where people just won't do things in the US".

Chinese companies are on a global buying spree to acquire technology and brands.

The $1.2 billion agreement takes a toll on both companies, especially Ant Financial's parent company, Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd (NYSE: BABA).

However, Euronet argued the takeover shouldn't be cleared because of the proximity to U.S. military bases of many MoneyGram vendors. 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. MoneyGram, which has over 650 million users worldwide, competes with Western Union for cross-border money transfers to countries like Mexico.

Ant Financial clinched an US$18 per share all-cash deal to acquire MoneyGram in April, seeing off competition from US-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. However, a spokesperson for Ant Financial said the company is "neither owned nor controlled by the Chinese government".

Ant Financial is just the latest Chinese company to face barriers to buying out USA businesses in recent months.

This particular deal comes after the United States has shot down a string of other purchases under Trump. (NASDAQ:LSCC) by a Chinese buyer, but other vetoes also date back from before Trump.

Billionaire businessman Jack Ma on Tuesday abandoned his attempt to buy MoneyGram after getting the cold shoulder on the deal from President Trump's regulators.

"With deep-rooted strategic mistrust toward China, U.S. politicians have failed to catch up with China's understanding of cooperation and adopted an increasingly protective and isolationist approach", the Xinhua commentary said.

Republican representatives Robert Pittenger and Chris Smith alluded to those blurred lines in expressing fears over the MoneyGram deal in an op-ed written for the Wall Street Journal (paywall) a year ago: "Ant Financial is reportedly seeking access to MoneyGram's 2.4 billion bank and mobile user accounts".

This rhetoric has returned more strongly in the last few days after he accused China of allowing oil to go into North Korea.

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