China central bank nod for credit-scoring JV backed by Ant, state firms

Ant Group's Hangzhou Headquarters. Source: Ant Group

China‘s central bank said on Friday it had accepted the application to set up a personal credit-scoring joint venture backed by Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Group and other firms.

The new venture, Qiantang Credit Rating Co Ltd, will become the third personal credit-scoring firm in China if officially approved by regulators.

It will be registered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province with a capital of 1 billion yuan ($156.50 million), the central bank said. The city is where Alibaba and Ant are based.

Ant and the state-backed Zhejiang Tourism Investment Group Co Ltd would each own 35% of the venture, according to a statement by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

Other state-backed partners, including Hangzhou Finance and Investment Group and Zhejiang Electronic Port, would hold 6.5% each.

Transfar Group, a non-state-backed shareholder, would hold 7%. The remaining 10% would be held by a private equity firm.

The set-up of the venture, in which Chinese state firms will take big stakes, is part of Ant’s sweeping business revamp ordered by regulators who put a sudden stop to its blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) last November.

The government has pushed for state-backed firms to exert more influence over fast-growing but lightly regulated new-economy businesses, Reuters has reported.

It also serves as the central bank‘s year-long attempt to link loan data among different online lending platforms, and tighten controls in credit information sharing to prevent over-borrowing and fraud.

Before Qiantang, the central bank had approved Baihang Credit in 2018, China‘s first licensed personal credit agency with nine parties co-invested, including credit rating units of Ant and Tencent Holdings.

It granted a second such approval to set up Pudao Credit Rating in December 2020, a venture between the investment arm of the Beijing government and subsidiaries of e-commerce giant JD.com and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.