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Ant Financial refiles for US approval of MoneyGram deal: sources
[NEW YORK] Ant Financial, the affiliate of China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd that agreed to buy money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc for US$1.2 billion, has resubmitted the deal for US review, people familiar with the matter said.
The deal is the latest and most high-profile transaction to be refiled this year with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a secretive government panel which reviews acquisitions by foreign entities for potential national security risks.
Ant Financial and MoneyGram refiled after they were unable to secure clearance from CFIUS within the maximum time of 75 days that is awarded for assessing applications, the sources said on Tuesday.
Refiling resets the clock and gives up to another 75 days for the companies to complete the national security review and try to resolve potential issues.
"We are not commenting on the CFIUS process, but we are continuing to work with the various regulatory agencies and remain focused on closing the transaction by the end of the year," Ant Financial said in a statement.
MoneyGram declined to comment.
A CFIUS refile does not necessarily mean that a deal will be rejected, although it does indicate increased government scrutiny. More deals have had to be refiled with CFIUS following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January, as several key positions at several government departments remain vacant or have taken too long to be filled.
CFIUS did not respond to a request for comment.
CFIUS had accepted notices of more than 120 transactions as of June 23, on pace to set a record, according to estimates by law firm Covington & Burling LLP. By comparison, CFIUS had received notices of just 97 transactions in all of 2013.
Ant Financial finalised its deal to buy Dallas-based MoneyGram in April, after it sweetened its bid by over a third to beat a rival offer from US-based Euronet Worldwide Inc.
MoneyGram's global remittance channels for sending money overseas would help Ant Financial, formerly known as Alipay, build a cross-border network after a string of recent investments in Asia.
Some US lawmakers, including Republican Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, have written to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also serves as chairman of CFIUS, to express concern that Ant Financial's acquisition of MoneyGram could pose national security threats, arguing that the information of US citizens, including military personnel, could be compromised.
Ant Financial has said that MoneyGram's data infrastructure will remain in the United States, with personal information encrypted or held in secure facilities on US soil. It has also pointed to existing US regulations that call for such protections.
CFIUS approved a previous deal by Ant Financial, its acquisition last year of Kansas City-based EyeVerify, the company behind a mobile eye verification technology.
In addition to CFIUS, at least 46 US states must have granted money transmitter licenses before the deal closes. Ant Financial is already approved for money transfers in 23 US states, according to analysts at Elevation LLC.