(Reuters) – The United States is looking at restrictions on China’s Ant Group as well as Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK over concerns that their digital payment platforms threaten national security, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.
Any potential restrictions by the Trump administration would further escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing following an ongoing dispute over the ownership of social media app TikTok.
Talks over how and whether to restrict Ant Group and Tencent’s payment systems has picked up pace among senior U.S. officials in recent weeks though a final decision is not imminent, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
A spokesperson for Ant Group said the company was “unaware of any such discussions within the Administration”.
“Ant Group’s business is primarily in China and we are excited about our growth prospects in the China market. Our mission is to contribute to economic growth and job creation through serving ordinary consumers and small businesses,” the company said.
Ant Group, backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba BABA.N, plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market this month in what could be the world’s largest initial public offering, surpassing oil giant Saudi Aramco’s $29.4 billion float in December.
The financial technology firm is seeking to raise about $35 billion after assessing early investor interest and based on a higher valuation of about $250 billion or more, Reuters has reported.
The potential enforcement against Ant and Tencent comes as TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, has been racing to avoid a crackdown on its U.S. operations after being at loggerheads with the U.S. government, which has expressed concerns over the handling of personal data by the video app.
Tencent Holdings did not immediately respond for comment out of regular business hours. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
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