Ant Financial / MoneyGram Deal Hits Regulatory Stumbling Block

May 17, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Most any announcement of merger or acquisition comes with a caveat in the United States sometimes referred to as “pending regulatory approval” or the like.

New reports suggest that the recently-announced deal between Ant Financial and MoneyGram—valued at $1.2 billion—may be facing some issues with gaining that approval.

The reports say that two Republican senators—specifically, Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts—have sent a message to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, suggesting that the Ant / MoneyGram deal could actually be a threat to national security.

Such a claim represents a significant issue for the whole operation; Ant Financial head Jack Ma had planned to bring one million new jobs to the United States as a result, a point that’s right in keeping with the Trump administration’s plans to bring jobs back to the United States in massive numbers. Yet this isn’t stopping lawmakers from demanding closer looks at the arrangement.

Roberts in particular noted that this arrangement “…should trigger no less concern than if a Chinese company were seeking to take control of a large, well-known bank.” However, it’s worth pointing out that both Roberts and Moran are from Kansas, home to Euronet, a company that was reportedly earlier out to get in on that deal between Ant and MoneyGram.

Reports note that the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S (CFIUS) should have a verdict on whether or not this is really that threatening by the middle of summer.

On the one hand, it would be easy for a suspicious mind to look at the Ant / MoneyGram deal and see some very big problems in the making. It would also be easy to look at such a notion and call it the product of a truly suspicious mind, and not to be taken very seriously.

Throw in the potential hometown-favorites connection that Roberts and Moran may have—though there’s no evidence the senators and Euronet have anything other than location in common—and the actual risk doesn’t look all that great.

Still, the word from CFIUS should help determine, one way or another, just what threat this deal actually has. It’s a safe bet that things will go comfortably forward, but an outside chance this may get stopped after all.