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Ant march halted: What Ma’s frozen IPO says about China business – Al Jazeera English



It was going to be the biggest public share sale ever, the most important international debut of China’s Ant Group that would bolster the financial-tech company and the prestige of the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges where it was poised to list.

Until, that is, China’s government stopped Ant’s initial public offering’s march in its tracks.

Officially, Ant Group’s $35bn IPO is on hold until it can comply with Chinese government regulations that went into effect on November 1, including fixing capital shortfalls.

Unofficially, analysts say the postponement is a serious muscle flex by Chinese President Xi Jinping over Ant’s founder, Jack Ma, who is the country’s second-wealthiest man. The suspension came days after Ma made a speech at odds with the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the economy.

As the fallout continues, investors are eyeing what Ant’s fate means for international businesses in China’s authoritarian landscape. Here is what you need to know.

Psst, this is embarrassing, but what exactly is Ant Group?

Ant is the financial arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba and started out in 2004 as the site’s way to process payments. Ant’s Alipay app now has more than 730 million monthly users in China who use it to pay bills, shop and send money to friends. Ant’s services also include insurance, loans and asset management.

So it is a financial services company?

That is part of the debate. Ma has argued that Ant is more of a “techfin” rather than a “fintech” outfit. The company recently changed its name from Ant Financial to Ant Group.

Techfin, fintech – come again?

Ant claims it is a technology company that works with financial institutions, which means it would enjoy fewer regulations and more freedom under Chinese laws.

But Chinese financial regulators say Ant’s business model of connecting lenders and borrowers falls squarely under their oversight. And that is where Ant’s IPO train started to come off the tracks.

So what happened?

Ant was initially marching towards its November 5 IPO and attracting a lot of investors in the process – it had some $3 trillion in orders for its dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Ant’s IPO was expected to even eclipse the $29bn IPO for Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco, so far the world’s biggest public share sale. But then Ma, a 56-year-old former English teacher, got called into the principal’s office.

Uh-oh. Why?

During a speech at the Bund conference in Shanghai on October 24, Ma opined that the world “only focuses on risk control, not on development, and rarely do they consider opportunities for young people and developing countries.”

Ma expressed that financial regulators seem a kind of club for the elderly who want to play it too safe, something that is not good for “youth” economies like China’s.

That doesn’t sound so bad.

Ma’s comments came just hours after the conference keynote’s speaker, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, struck a more cautious note, saying that China would “keep away from the wrongful paths of excessive speculation, self-reinforcing cycles of financial bubbles and Ponzi schemes.”

Ma was called to Beijing for a meeting with government officials on November 2. The next day, Ant’s listing was pulled from the Shanghai stock exchange.

Ouch. What was the official reason?

Chinese regulators called the company’s leadership in for “supervisory interviews by relevant departments,” the Shanghai stock exchange said in a statement announcing Ant’s IPO suspension, which also mentioned “changes in the financial technology regulatory environment and other major issues.”

What did the whole thing cost Ma?

Ma’s stake in Alibaba Group Holding, which owns a chunk of Ant, fell about $3bn after the IPO was postponed, Bloomberg reported. The company is now in the process of implementing the guidelines from that Beijing meeting so it can get back out there.

But the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission may also impose new rules on Ant’s credit platforms, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, which may mean Ma’s headaches are far from over.

OK, so for now, Ant goes marching on. But is there lasting fallout?

Maybe. China’s government seems to be sending a clear signal that it is not afraid to step in and cancel the party when a private company does not play by its rules. And that could spook investors who are keen to get in on the world’s second-largest economy – but are not eager to toe the Communist Party line.

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Stock market news live updates: Dow falls, but heads toward best month in more than three decades – Yahoo Canada Shine On




Biological Seed Treatment Market to be worth USD 2,037.5 Million By 2027 | Reports and Data

The rising demand in the agricultural sector for food grains and the scarcity of arable lands are driving the demand for the Biological Seed Treatment market.New York, Nov. 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Global Biological Seed Treatment Market is forecast to reach USD 2,037.5 million by 2027, according to a new report by Reports and Data. Rising demand in the agriculture sector for food grains and growing R&D to increase crop yield and seed potential is expected to drive the growth of the biological seed treatment market. The growing focus on organic farming in the agricultural sector is most likely to fuel the demand for biological seed treatment over the forecast period. The escalating need to enhance plant nutrients’ availability in the root system is boosting the demand for biological seed treatment solutions. The increasing awareness pertaining to the adverse effects of chemical seed treatment among health-conscious consumers is furthering the utilization of biological seed treatment solutions.The high cost associated with biological seed treatments and the lack of awareness among farmers regarding sustainable agricultural practices is restricting the growth of the biological seed treatment market over the forecast period.  Get FREE Sample Copy with TOC of the Report to understand the structure of the complete report@ key findings from the report suggest * The increasing demand in the agricultural sector for food grains and scarcity of arable lands are driving the growth of the market. The increase in awareness among consumers regarding the environment and health has propelled the market growth. * The government of several countries has restricted the use of chemical pesticides and is encouraging biological seed treatment products. They are taking initiatives for promoting biological seed treatment products and awarding grants for the research and development of seed treatment products. * The Asia Pacific market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.4% over the forecast period, making it the fastest-growing region in the biological seed treatment market. There is a significant demand for biological seed treatment in the region for the minimization of the usage of excessive pesticides. * The biological seed treatment market is adopting some wiser strategies in order to say competitive between the growing demand for the products. Prominent brands in the sector have undertaken collaborations to expand their product portfolios and enter new markets. To retain the position of products in the competitive market, companies are adopting effective marketing and branding strategies. * Key participants include BASF SE, Syngenta International AG, Bayer CropScience AG, DuPont, Monsanto Company, Koppert Biological Systems, ADAMA agricultural solutions, Plant Health Care, Incotec, and Verdesian Life Sciences, among others.  BUY NOW (Customized Report Delivered as per Your Specific Requirement)@ the purpose of this report, Reports and Data has segmented the Global Biological Seed Treatment Market on the basis of product, function, crop type, and region: * Product Outlook (Revenue, USD Million; 2017-2027) * Botanicals & others * Microbials (Fungi, Bacteria) * Function Outlook (Revenue, USD Million; 2017-2027) * Seed Enhancement (Biostimulants, Biofertilizers) * Seed Protection (Biofungicides, Bioinsecticides) * Crop Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Million; 2017-2027) * Wheat * Corn * Sunflower * Cotton * Soybean * Vegetable crops * OthersTo identify the key trends in the industry, click on the link below: * Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million; 2017-2027) * North America 1. U.S. 2. Canada * Europe 1. Germany 2. U.K. 3. France 4. BENELUX 5. Rest of Europe * Asia Pacific 1. China 2. Japan 3. South Korea 4. Rest of APAC * MEA 1. Saudi Arabia 2. U.A.E. 3. Rest of MEA * Latin America 1. Brazil 2. Rest of LATAMTake a Look at our Related Reports:Natural Rubber Market Analysis by Product Type (RSS Grade, Latex Concentrate, Solid Block), Distribution Channel (Online, Offline), Application (Automobiles, Gloves, Footwear) and Region – Forecast To 2027Digital Farming Market Size, Share & Analysis, By Component (Hardware, Software, And Others), By Application (Precision Farming, Live Stock Monitoring, Green House Farming, And Others) And By Region – Forecasts To 2027Ornamental Fish Market By Types (Cold-water Fish, Tropical Fish) By Applications (Commercial Application, Residential Application) Forecast 2020 To 2027Fishing Nets and Aquaculture Cages Market By Type (Fishing Nets, Aquaculture Cages) By Application (Individual Application, Commercial Application) Regional Outlook And Forecasts, 2020-2027Dripline Market By Type (PC Dripline, Non-PC Dripline, Others), By Application (Farms, Commercial Greenhouses, Residential Gardeners, Others) And Region- Global Forecasts To 2027About Reports and DataReports and Data is a market research and consulting company that provides syndicated research reports, customized research reports, and consulting services. Our solutions purely focus on your purpose to locate, target and analyze consumer behavior shifts across demographics, across industries and help client’s make a smarter business decision. We offer market intelligence studies ensuring relevant and fact-based research across a multiple industries including Healthcare, Technology, Chemicals, Power, and Energy. We consistently update our research offerings to ensure our clients are aware about the latest trends existent in the market. Reports and Data has a strong base of experienced analysts from varied areas of expertise.Reports And Data | Web: Direct Line: +1-212-710-1370E-mail: sales@reportsanddata.comLinkdIn | Twitter | BlogsLinkdIn | Twitter | BlogsRead Full Press Release@ CONTACT: Contact Us: John W Head of Business Development Reports And Data | Web: Direct Line: +1-212-710-1370 E-mail: LinkdIn | Twitter | BlogsLinkdIn | Twitter | Blogs

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Canadians now owe more than $2 trillion, Equifax says –



Consumer demand for credit intensified in the third quarter, driven chiefly by increases in mortgage balances and new auto loans, according to data released Monday by credit reporting agency Equifax.

Mortgage balances and new auto loans were up 6.6 per cent and 11.7 per cent year over year, respectively, according to Equifax. Overall average consumer debt increased 3.3 per cent compared with the third quarter of last year.

Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice-president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in an interview that growth in mortgages last quarter was especially high, with the largest increase among people under 35. That trend comes even as economic fallout from the pandemic and associated lockdown measures hit young people especially hard.

“In terms of new mortgages, that could be refinancing, or it could be brand-new, first-time home buyers or it could be people moving house,” Oakes said. “That was actually the highest value that we’ve seen ever.”

The increased demand for auto loans in the third quarter could have been a result of pent-up demand from people who had to wait to buy cars later in the year, Oakes said.

Total debt $2 trillion

The figures in Equifax’s report are drawn from banks and other lenders that provide data to the credit rating agency.

Equifax pegged total consumer debt at $2.04 trillion, while Statistics Canada reported in June that household debt had reached $2.3 trillion, with $1.77 in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

More than three million consumers have chosen to use payment deferral programs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Equifax. Since the start of this year, some banks have offered consumers the option to suspend their loan payments for several months, in recognition of the financial strain the pandemic has created for many households.

However, under the payment deferral programs, interest continues to accrue during the months for which payments are suspended.

The percentage of balances where credit users have missed three or more payments was at its lowest level since 2014, with deferral programs likely masking the true delinquency rates, according to Oakes.

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NDP calls on Ford gov't to expand asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to all schools in hard-hit neighbourhoods – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



NDP MPPs are calling on the Ford government to conduct widespread COVID-19 testing at all schools in the province’s hardest hit neighbourhoods after asymptomatic testing at an East York elementary school unearthed 19 previously undetected infections.

Members of the official opposition are urging the provincial government to immediately deploy resources to facilitate voluntary testing centres inside schools in Ontario neighbourhoods with high COVID-19 positivity rates.

“Doug Ford is trying to save a buck by underserving the hardest hit areas,” NDP Deputy Leader and Brampton Centre MPP Sara Singh said in a news release issued Monday.

“He has been refusing to send extra help to hot spots, because he wants to do things on the cheap. That’s resulting in longer, deeper lockdowns and more devastating illness. We need help to end this nightmare, and stop the virus from hurting our loved ones.”

On Sunday, it was revealed that asymptomatic testing at one Thorncliffe Park elementary school resulted in 18 students and one staff member testing positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In a letter sent to parents yesterday, the principal of Thorncliffe Park Public School said Toronto Public Health detected the cases after 433 tests were processed on Thursday and Friday.

Thorncliffe Park is one of the neighbourhoods in the GTA that has been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that the data indicate that community transmission in Thorncliffe Park is substantially worse than the transmission happening within the school.

“I think it should be noted that the principal within this school has communicated that the positivity rate compared from the community to the school is quite vast. In the community, it is roughly 16 per cent positivity whereas in the school it is roughly four per cent,” he said.

“There is a four time increase of transmission happening in the community notwithstanding that those schools are right at the heart of those neighbourhoods.”

He said the disparity indicates that there is “something right happening” when it comes to the “layers of prevention” occurring in the public school system.

“The fact that hundreds of students and staff have gotten tested in this school in conjunction with the local public health unit, I think underscores that the plan in place is working hard to mitigate any further spread,” Lecce said.

“This morning, including the data points from Thorncliffe, 99.9 per cent of Ontario students are COVID-free and that continues to underscore the importance of following public health advice and it really I think demonstrates the importance of keeping schools open, which is our plan for 2021.”

Roughly 14 per cent of the province’s 4,828 publicly funded schools have at least one reported case of COVID-19 and at least four schools are currently closed as a result of outbreaks of the disease.

Province changed testing guidelines last week

Just last week, the province adjusted its COVID-19 testing guidance for school staff and students in Toronto, York Region, Peel Region and Ottawa to allow voluntary asymptomatic testing.

The province also offered school boards in the regions an additional $35 million to strengthen public health measures.

The testing pilot, which is in place for four weeks, was implemented to better track how the virus is spreading in and around schools.

Since late September, Ontario’s assessment centres would not test asymptomatic people unless they were linked to a known case.

The NDP called the funding and four-week testing program a “half-measure.”

“Some students in some regions may be able to get tests. According to the government, the location and method for testing will vary between regions and cities, regions will have to develop their own plan,” the NDP said in a news release last week.

“Ford’s still trying to cheap out on testing students, teachers and staff, and that’s not good enough.”

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the cases at Thorncliffe Park Public School are “concerning but not surprising.”

“Those numbers are obviously concerning. We know that that is one of the neighborhoods in the city of Toronto that has high rates of COVID-19 transmission,” she said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. 

“That is one of the schools that was chosen for this testing initiative and when we have a lot of COVID-19 in the community, by its nature it spills into the schools.”

She said the province is continuing to work with Toronto Public Health to identify measures that will help prevent further spread of the virus in the city’s schools.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy called the discovery at Thorncliffe Park Public School an “important” one.

“We know that children tend to be minimally, if not symptomatic at all, but they appear to be quite good at spreading this,” he told CP24 on Monday.

“So we need to be quite aware of whether or not there is any asymptomatic signal within our younger children to prevent that from spreading to others in a multi-generational household or others who are certainly going to be at a higher risk if they acquire COVID-19 and become a lot sicker.”

Sharkawy said he hopes the province continues to expand asymptomatic testing in schools.

“There are a lot of asymptomatic people out there who are infected with this virus and unfortunately until we ramp up our testing capacity and ideally target areas that appear to be harder hit, we won’t really know the extent of the disease that’s out there,” he said.

“I think that this was actually an important finding. I don’t think it is one that should create too much alarm amongst people sending their children to school but I hope it is a pilot program that will catch on, especially in other areas that are hard hit.”

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