FT: UK fintech shuts US operation to save Ant Financial deal

A British money transfer company has abruptly closed its US operation in an attempt to avoid having its planned £700 million ($918.5mn) takeover by China’s Ant Financial derailed by American regulators.

WorldFirst has been in talks with Ant Financial since late last year in a deal that would mark the biggest expansion into western markets by China’s leading mobile payments provider.

In a message to customers this week, WorldFirst said its shareholders “have taken the decision to discontinue with the US operations” and will stop offering all services after February 20.

The move was designed to avoid the UK company’s takeover becoming the second deal by Ant Financial in as many years to be blocked by American regulators over national security concerns, according to two people briefed on its decision.

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