The Hustle

WorldFirst shuts down its US operations to enable a $900m sale to Ant Financial

WorldFirst, a British money transfer service, shut down its US operation to avoid pesky regulators as it finalizes a $900m sale to Ant Financial.

February 4, 2019

WorldFirst, a British money transfer business in talks to be acquired by China’s Ant Financial for $900m, shut down its whole American division so US regulators wouldn’t put the kibosh on the deal.

An unexpected shutdown

WorldFirst’s abrupt US closure will result in “heavy job losses” among the company’s employees in both Austin and San Francisco.

But WorldFirst’s sudden closure was also a surprising kick in the pants for American Amazon sellers who use WorldFirst’s services to sell their products in international markets.

Now, some of Amazon’s most sizable sellers have to find new money transfer partners on short notice, which could put their international shipments on hold for the foreseeable future.

Ant-sy to expand

Last year, the US government shot down Ant’s attempted $1.2B acquisition of US-based MoneyGram for security reasons.

Now, after looking for fresh blood for the past year, Ant will finally satisfy its appetite by swallowing up WorldFirst in order to get a foothold in financial markets outside of China.

US regulators are likely to continue cracking down on trade with China, so it will likely become increasingly common for global businesses to cut ties with the US before partnering with Chinese firms to avoid the wrath of regulators.

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