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February 4, 2019

WorldFirst shutters US business amid merger negotiations with Ant Financial

British money transfer firm WorldFirst has closed its operations in the US as it awaits acquisition by China’s Ant Financial, which operates the mobile payment platform Alipay.

Furthermore, WorldFirst did not offer any explanation for the decision.

Confirming the move, WorldFirst said in a notice on its website: “The WorldFirst shareholders have taken the decision to discontinue with the US operations. As such, we will no longer be able to offer our products and services to you.

“The closure is to take immediate effect; you will no longer be able to transact with WorldFirst from 4:00pm February 20th, 2019 and this is therefore notice that the agreement between us is being terminated. We would like to assure you that any money you have on account with us, if applicable, is completely safe and secure.”

Worldfirst US will become Omega after 20 February 2019. The new entity will operate as an independent firm.

According to media reports, the closure is an effort to save the Ant Financial deal from possible regulatory objections.

At the end of last year, Ant Financial reportedly was in advanced talks to purchase WorldFirst for $700m.

The latest move comes a year after the US blocked the $1.2bn acquisition of money transfer firm MoneyGram to Ant Financial due to national security concerns.

Ant Financial also had to pay MoneyGram a $30m termination fee.

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