Alibaba’s Ant said to mull Hong Kong IPO, target valuation over $200b

REUTERS/Aly Song

Ant Group, the fintech arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, plans a Hong Kong float as soon as this year and targets a valuation of more than $200 billion, said two sources with knowledge of the matter.

The world’s most valuable tech “unicorn” had been looking to sell shares in Hong Kong and mainland China simultaneously, but is now leaning heavily towards the Asian financial hub first because it would probably face a smoother listing process, the sources and a third person with knowledge of the matter said.

It is looking at selling between 5% and 10% of its shares in an initial public offering, said one of the sources, in what would be one of the world’s biggest listings this year.

The company has been working with its advisers on the planned float in recent months, said the sources, who cautioned that details have yet to be finalized and are subject to change.

In response, Ant said the information about its IPO plans was incorrect. Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sources sought anonymity as the information was private.

Ant, based in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou, is 33% owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

Although valued at about $150 billion in its last funding round in 2018, small trades in the secondary market late last year gave it an implied valuation of $200 billion.

Ant is China’s dominant mobile payments company, offering loans, payments, insurance and asset management services via mobile apps.

However, recent years have seen it emphasise its technology prowess amid increased regulatory scrutiny of financial risk.

The company wants to be referred to in English as “Ant Group Co,” its spokeswoman said. It won regulatory approval in May to change its legal name in Chinese to Ant Technology Group Co.

Ant generated revenue of about 120 billion yuan ($17.10 billion) last year and almost 17 billion yuan in net profit, according to financial documents seen by Reuters.

Ant said the information was incorrect.

A Hong Kong listing of Ant – one of the world’s most hotly-anticipated IPOs – would be a boost to the city’s status as a global capital markets centre as its leaders come under fire for China’s imposition last month of a tough national security law.

This year, however, capital-raising has been helped by the broader tension between China and the United States, with several U.S.-listed Chinese firms planning secondary listings in Hong Kong to help establish an investor base closer to home.

In November, Alibaba itself raised $12.9 billion in a secondary listing.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.