Jack Ma’s Ant Group said to target $225b valuation in IPO

The login page for Ant Financial Services Group's Alipay application, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group plans to file for dual listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the next few weeks, targeting a valuation of about $225 billion, people familiar with the matter said, in an effort to pull off the world’s largest initial public offering.

The share sales could raise about $30 billion in total if markets are favorable, said one of the people, requesting not to be named because the matter is private. The Hangzhou-based firm seeks to float its shares simultaneously on the Hong Kong stock exchange and the tech-focused Star board in Shanghai as soon as October, the people said.

Ant, which made about $1.3 billion in profit in the March quarter, is Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Ma’s prized asset. It’s morphed from a fintech platform to an online mall for everything from loans and travel services to food delivery, in a bid to win back shoppers lost to Tencent Holdings Ltd. With data from almost a billion users of its Alipay app at its back, Ant is pushing broadly into financial services, delivering technology such as robo investing and lending platforms as well as building out its advisory business.

A $30 billion dual listing could mark the biggest debut globally, topping Saudi Aramco’s record $29.4 billion haul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At a valuation of $225 billion, Ant’s valuation would be bigger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley combined.

Ant’s plans including details of the share sale are subject to change, the people said. A representative for Ant declined to comment.

China Securities Regulatory Commission received an application Friday from Ant for an overseas listing, according to its website. No further details were given.

Ant’s IPO will give another boost to Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., which has already seen a renaissance of Chinese tech listings after it relaxed rules in the wake of losing China’s biggest tech firms to New York. Alibaba, which owns a third of Ant, returned with a $13 billion secondary listing last year in Hong Kong.

China’s effort to build its own tech bourse in Shanghai underscores the geopolitical tension with Washington. A high-powered group of U.S. regulators said this month that stock exchanges should set new rules that could trigger the delisting of Chinese companies. Firms must grant American regulators access to their audit work papers in order to trade on a U.S. exchange, according to the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets.

The recommendations target a problem that has vexed U.S. regulators for more than a decade: China’s refusal to allow inspectors from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to review audits of firms that trade on American markets. A high-profile accounting scandal at Luckin Coffee Inc. this year has also elevated such concerns.

Bloomberg

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.

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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. 
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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.