The Chinese President personally intervened stop biggest IPO in history that was going to star Ant, Jack Ma's fintech: The Chinese President ordered regulators to examine in depth what was to be the biggest IPO in history. It was going to star Ant Group, the Fintech of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba (AliExpress), and was expected to raise about 30.000 million euros, about 34.500 million in dollars.
Xi Jinping, the top leader in the Asian giant, adopted this decision after hearing criticism that Ma, the richest businessman in the country, made about the financial regulators of the state. This is what senior Chinese government officials have explained to The Wall Street Journal.
Ant Group was going to go public on the Shanghai and Hong Kong parking lots on Thursday, November 5. 48 hours earlier regulators announced that they were paralyzing the public offer to sell the technology for the company to tie some regulatory fringes. The next day, Ma had already lost 2.6 billion euros because of this decision.
"Xi doesn't care if you appear on a rich list or not," a senior Chinese official acknowledges to the American newspaper. "What he cares about is what you do when you are already rich, and whether or not you align with the interests of the Chinese state."
The decision by the regulators to suspend Ant's IPO was the point —and followed— of years of tension between the top leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the top state institutions. Xi has been running out of patience with companies that concentrate capital and influence, since the president understands that they defy the regulations and stability of the country.
Chinese President personally intervened stop biggest IPO
It did not help that it was Ma himself who in recent weeks criticized the financial regulators of the Asian country. Ant Group is one of the largest fintechs in the globe. Founded by Ma, who also founded Alibaba (the group of which AliExpress is part), will have to face scrutiny from those same regulators he criticized days earlier in order to trade on the stock exchange.
Ma's most prominent criticisms in the press took place at a special event on October 24, just weeks before Ant's IPO. Ma recalled a few words from the Chinese President: "success does not have to come from me."
Ma was referring to Ant aiming to solve the country's financial challenges through fintech, but criticized the government's regulation. Xi received a report on what Ma had said and proceeded to order even greater scrutiny of the technology, and even to paralyze its initial offer. What is unclear is whether the idea came from President Xi himself or some other member of his cabinet.
Neither the Chinese government, nor Ant, nor Ma himself have wanted to comment on it, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese President personally intervened stop biggest IPO
Meet the billionaire couple who helped create Pfizer's vaccine
Pfizer has made history with promising clinical trial results for its coronavirus vaccine. Developed together with the German biotech BioNTech, the vaccine has an efficacy of more than 90%, according to the first data from the human trial.
It is the fastest vaccine ever developed, and its efficacy has been much higher than what virologists had expected, predicting an efficacy of between 70% and 80%.
It is good news for the future of the pandemic. And, also, for the German couple who are behind the German company responsible for the vaccine.
BioNTech CEO Dr. Ugur Sahin co-founded the company with his wife Dr. Özlem Türeci, who holds the position of medical director. The pair crossed the billionaire threshold in June, when BioNTech shares skyrocketed after its deal with Pfizer was announced. Another increase in shares after the first data from clinical trials could cause their joint fortune to rise to almost 3.5 billion euros.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Pfizer has already sold most of the stock portfolio he had of the US pharmaceutical, pocketing almost 5 million euros.
But the spotlight is now on Sahin and Türeci for their decisive role in the development of an unprecedented scientific milestone.
"It could be the beginning of the end of the Covid era," Dr. Sahin has summed up in statements to The New York Times.
Below you can take a look to find out how the couple met and understand how they have already left their mark on the modern history of Medicine.
According to The New York Times, Sahin emigrated to Germany from Turkey when he was 4 years old and Türeci was already born in the German country. Sahin hails from Iskenderun, a city near the border with Syria, while Türeci's father is from Istanbul. Türeci has described herself as a" Prussian Turk", according to The Guardian, referring to her admiration for aspects of German culture.
They came to medicine by different routes: Sahin, the son of an automobile factory worker, met her through science books. Türeci's father is a surgeon and she grew up watching him operate on patients.
Sahin had also worked in hospitals in Cologne, according to Reuters. He received his doctorate from the University of Cologne in 1990. Türeci, meanwhile, received his PhD from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Saarland.
From 2000, Sahin and Türeci together led a research group at the University of Mainz. Later, in 2001, they founded Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, which focused on the role of antibodies in the treatment of cancer. According to Forbes, Ganymed received the backing of billionaires, and identical twins, Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann, responsible for Hexal, a German pharmaceutical that was eventually bought by Novartis.
For its part, Ganymed Pharmaceuticals was acquired by the Japanese Astellas Pharma for around 1.185 million euros in 2016.
"I understood that what we can offer cancer patients in hospitals is no big deal, and that we could contribute more by bringing the new discoveries closer to the patient's bed," Türeci explained to Clara Rodríguez Fernández, a journalist at Labiotech, in an interview published in 2017.
According to The New York Times, the couple went to work at the lab on the morning of their wedding in 2002, stopped to celebrate the ceremony and later returned to work that same day.
Türeci claimed in 2017 that Sahin assumed the role of CEO of BioNTech in 2008, and she stayed on as CEO of Ganymed. Prior to Ganymed's acquisition, she also worked as a scientific advisor for BioNTech.
"In 2008, we recognized that another platform had reached a point of maturity where they had to accelerate towards individualized vaccines, and BioNTech was founded," Türeci explained to Labiotech.
BioNTech, which proposed to use immunotherapy in cancer vaccines, also then received the backing of the Strüngmann twins, Türeci became the company's medical director in 2018.
According to The New York Times, Sahin read an article in the Lancet published January about the Wuhan outbreak. He spotted the potential dangers and, according to Reuters, saw how BioNTech's work on mRNA could be applicable to a vaccine.
It was then that the company, which at that time had 500 employees, began work on compounds for the "Lightspeed project".
BioNTech had already worked on a possible flu vaccine with Pfizer in 2018. When Sahin began focusing on coronavirus research, he called Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research at Pfizer, in February.
BioNTech reached a collaboration agreement with Pfizer in March, and began human studies of the vaccine in late April.
In September, the German weekly Welt am Sonntag included the couple among the 100 richest Germans: they occupy the 85th place.
BioNTech's valuation soared to 21.170 million euros last Friday. A year ago, it didn't even reach 2.9 billion.
Sahin is known among his colleagues for continuing to come to work on a bicycle and, according to the media, goes to the laboratory only with a helmet and a backpack. He continues to teach at the Medical Center of the University of Mainz, where he began in 2014.
And, in addition to her BioNTech duties, Türeci holds the position of President of the Cancer Immunotherapy Association.
The couple did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for a statement.
As BioNTech skyrockets and vaccine distribution and production accelerates, some investors assured the New York Times that the couple remains focused on driving medical advances, not money.
In fact, e New York Times has published that, knowing the efficacy data, the couple celebrated the breakthrough by brewing Turkish tea.