Jack Ma’s Ant Group won the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s key approval for its listing in Hong Kong, paving the way for what, according to reports, may be the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO).
The Chinese regulator gave Ant a go ahead to seek a listing hearing with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. as soon as possible, the sources said. For its onshore listing, Ant has already received approval from the Shanghai exchange.
The nod came later than anticipated from China’s securities watchdog, sparking speculation that Ants’ IPO was running into roadblocks. Through a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the group could raise around $35 billion at a valuation of at least $280 billion, people said.
The IPO of Ant Groups could be the world’s largest, surpassing the record $29 billion sale of Saudi Aramco. It will also mark a Hong Kong stock exchange victory that has lost many of China’s tech stars to US listings.
Ant will not pursue Hong Kong’s core investors, but will invite major backers to reduce price swings for its Shanghai offering, individuals familiar with the matter have said. The China-based company plans to issue new shares equal to approximately 11% to 15% of its outstanding shares and divide the float evenly between Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Ant Group which was formerly known as Ant Financial and Alipay, is an affiliate company of the Chinese Alibaba Group owned by Jack Ma, one of the richest persons in the world. Ant Financial is the world’s highest-valued FinTech company, and most valuable unicorn (start-up) company.
It operates Alipay, the world’s largest mobile and online payments platform as well as Yu’e Bao, the world’s largest money-market fund. It also runs Sesame Credit, a third-party credit rating system. In September 2017, Ant Financial also unveiled its facial recognition payment technology through its Alipay services.