Ant Financial, MoneyGram Deal Has Hit a (Permanent) RoadBlock

Ant Financial’s acquisition of MoneyGram is in trouble.

For those which might have missed the beginning of this saga, Ant Financial entered into a deal to acquire MoneyGram, despite the rival (and insistent) offers of electronics payments provider Euronet. The two companies then began the process of closing that deal, which included gaining approval from a regulatory body known as CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States).

As reported by Reuters, this is where the deal hit a snag—Ant Financial and MoneyGram did not secure clearance from this body within the mandatory 75-day timeframe, and have since been forced to refile the deal for review.

That’s not a good sign. The fact that the two companies have been forced to refile could mean that the government is closely eying this deal, or that it has clear security concerns—that makes the likelihood of the deal passing somewhat slim, according to sources familiar with the matter.

One major potential problem with closing the deal might be the fact that Ant Financial is a China-based company; Euronet, in a statement released today, certainly seems to think that might have contributed.

The statement reads:

The report of the refiling with CFIUS is consistent with our long-held belief that the acquisition of MoneyGram by a Chinese company with Chinese government ownership is a matter of serious national security concern…

MoneyGram holds sensitive personal financial information of tens of millions of U.S. citizens and the location of MoneyGram’s money transfer agents are uniquely clustered around U.S. military installations making our soldiers and sailors especially vulnerable.  We do not see any way the risks involved in the transaction could be mitigated, particularly in light of Ant Financial’s stated business rationale for the transaction which is to globally integrate its payment network.

Whether this refiling will lead to a favorable outcome for the two companies is quite unlikely, according to sources familiar with the matter, but the companies have proceeded. Now, it’s up to CFIUS… again.

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