Singapore/Beijing — Four years ago, when Ant Group’s premier money market fund was racing to a peak of more than $260bn worth of assets under management, many of China’s state-owned banks and their regulators started to get agitated. In a series of calls and meetings with Jack Ma, Ant’s founder, bank executives and regulatory officials demanded that its Yu’E Bao fund be reined in.

“Yu’E Bao was pulling a lot of money from the banks,” says one person familiar with the discussions. “The banks were worried about the impact on liquidity and wanted Ant to take measures to minimise the impact. The conversations were pretty tense.”..

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