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Ant Financial ups its price to buy MoneyGram by 36%

Ant Financial has increased its bid to acquire for MoneyGram by 36% and is now offering $18 per share in cash from $13.25 per share, reports Reuters. This will peg the deal at $1.2 billion. MoneyGram and Ant Financial had signed a definitive agreement in January for $880 million.

However, in March, Kansas-based electronic payments company Euronet came forward with an unsolicited proposal to acquire all outstanding shares of MoneyGram Common Stock and Preferred Stock for $15.20. Ant Financial will have to first get clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), an inter-department body which looks at acquisitions by foreign companies.

This could be influenced by US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy. The Euronet proposal is seen as more favourable to US lawmakers. Last month, two members of US Congress – Kevin Yoder and Eddie Bernice Johnson – called on CFIUS for an investigation into Ant Financial’s proposal as it would allow Chinese access to the US financial infrastructure. They added that the proposed deal could also pose a significant threat to the US’ national security.

Meanwhile, MoneyGram said that any user data collected would continue to be on US-based servers and that it will operate as an independent unit. Ant Financial and MoneyGram also added that they would obtain the necessary regulatory approvals.

India connection

In India, MoneyGram is an entity authorized by the Reserve Bank of India, for accepting cross-border inward remittances. India’s is one of the large markets in the world for inward remittances.

Ant Financial’s merger with MoneyGram is also about being able to tap the 450 million users registered users on Alipay (in China), and the 200 million users registered with Paytm (in India). Ant Financial initially purchased a 25% stake in One97 Communications, which operates Paytm, in February 2015. Paytm also raised an undisclosed amount in a round of funding from both Alibaba and Ant Financial in September 2015. At that time, Alibaba Group picked up a 20% stake in Paytm for about $680 million and lowered Ant Financial’s stake to 20%.

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