Just before Jack Ma’s Ant Group’s IPO was halted by the Chinese government back in November, the billionaire offered to salvage the battered financial tech firm in a deal that would put him in the hands of regulators.

Ma wanted to hand over parts of Ant Group to the Chinese government for “as long as the country needs it,” sources told The Wall Street Journal. The comments were made by Ma in a Nov. 2 meeting with regulators that included officials from China’s central bank and agencies that are in charge of the country’s securities, banking, and insurance.

Ant Group was set to go public in what would have been considered the largest IPO in the world after the private meeting with Ma. Ant Group’s IPO was also pulled from the Hong Kong Exchange, where it was also going to be listed simultaneously.

Some have speculated that controversial comments made by Ma in October at a public forum in Shanghai may have caused friction with Chinese officials.

“We cannot regulate the future with yesterday’s means,” Ma said during the presentation. “There’s no systemic financial risks in China because there’s no financial system in China. The risks are a lack of systems.”

Speaking to WSJ, a spokesperson for Ant Group said it could not confirm details of the meeting with regulators because it was "confidential."

Chinese financial officials have not made a decision to take Ma up on his offer for now, but other plans are being considered for Ant Group, including tighter regulations or a buy-in by state investors to cover capital shortfalls under tightened rules, sources told WSJ.

Concerns by Chinese regulators have surfaced in recent months as financial tech giants such as Ant Group expand their internet-based payment and lending services, which could put social control in the country at risk. China has pledged to reduce antimonopoly efforts in 2021, sending a message to internet companies, such as Ant Group.

Ma has not made any public appearances since he made his presentation at the public forum in Shanghai on Oct. 24.

Jack ma
Ant Group chief chairman Jack Ma was summoned with other executives to meet central bank and regulatory officials. AFP / Philippe LOPEZ