MoneyGram Tanks as Alibaba Deal Thwarted

Shares of MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI) tumbled Tuesday after the U.S. government failed to approve a multi-million-dollar merger with Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) controlled by its founder, Jack Ma.

Ant Financial will pay a $30-million termination fee for the breakup of the deal, in which Ant Financial agreed to buy MoneyGram for $18 a share.

"The geopolitical environment has changed considerably since we first announced the proposed transaction with Ant Financial nearly a year ago," MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes said in a statement.

"Despite our best efforts to work cooperatively with the U.S. government, it has now become clear that [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] will not approve this merger."

Alibaba and MoneyGram will instead form a "new strategic business cooperation" to expand their remittance and digital payments services internationally.

It's a major blow for the Chinese e-commerce giant, which has global ambitions but faces a U.S. government that has taken a hard line on trade with China. For example, President Donald Trump is expected to release harsher penalties this month on companies that depend on trade with China, according to The Washington Post.

Ant Financial is best known for Alipay, a dominant online payments service, similar to PayPal, that had been part of Alibaba but separated after when Alibaba went public in 2014. Ant Financial itself is considered a top IPO candidate — thought in October 2017, the company reportedly decided to put its offering on hold as it expanded investments in startups.

MoneyGram shares retreated $1.31, or 9.8%, to $12.00, while Alibaba shares acquired four cents to $183.69

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