Jack Ma's Ant shares are reportedly worth $17bn

The stock market debut by Chinese tech giant Ant Group has been halted after its Shanghai listing was suspended.

Shanghai authorities said the group had reported “changes in the financial technology regulatory environment”, leading to the suspension.

The listing was due to go ahead in Shanghai and Hong Kong on Thursday.

Ant, backed by Jack Ma, billionaire founder of e-commerce platform Alibaba, was set to sell shares worth about $34.4bn (£26.5bn).

Ant runs Alipay, the main online payment system in China, where cash, cheques and credit cards have long been eclipsed by e-payment devices and apps.

Alipay says the total volume of payments on its platforms in China for the year ending in June was $17.6tn.

The online giant had planned to make its dual listing this week.

However, Mr Ma and two top executives were asked to attend a meeting with financial regulators on Monday where they were told Ant’s online lending business faces more government scrutiny, Reuters news agency reported.

The Shanghai stock exchange said on Tuesday that “major issues”, including Ant’s report of changes to the regulatory environment, meant Ant no longer met “listing conditions or information disclosure requirements”.

The Hong Kong exchange then reported that Ant had decided to suspend its planned listing.

The share price was set on Monday amid reports of very strong demand from major investors.

Ant was due to sell about 11% of its shares. But the pricing valued the whole business at about $313bn.

The previous largest debut was Saudi Aramco’s $29.4bn float last December.