Jack Ma's Ant Group Sets Sights on Record IPO

Ant Group is going public in what could mark the biggest 2020 IPO globally to date.

Ant Group, the online payments arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group  (BABA) - Get Report, revealed plans on Monday for an initial public offering of stock in both Hong Kong and Shanghai that could mark the biggest 2020 IPO globally to date.

Ant Group, which is 33%-owned by Alibaba, will pursue a simultaneous dual-listing in Hong Kong and on the Shanghai stock exchange’s STAR board, the Hangzhou-based firm said.

The long-awaited announcement comes as Ant, which changed its registered name to Ant Group Co. from Ant Financial Services Group at the end of May, has continued to bolster its presence and reach in the online services and payments worlds. 

Valued at $150 billion after a 2018 private fundraising round, Ant has evolved into an online mall for everything from loans and travel services to food delivery, in an effort to lure customers back from Tencent Holdings. Ant posted more than $2 billion in profit in the fourth quarter, based on calculations made from Alibaba’s filing.

Apart from mobile payments service Alipay, China's most pervasive online wallet, Ant Group also operates one of the world’s largest money market funds and runs Sesame Credit, a private credit rating system for its users. Together with its partners, Ant Group serves more than 1 billion users globally.

Its technology solutions also include services in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and risk control. 

A public offering in both Hong Kong and Shanghai will also give foreign investors a chance to own a piece of Ant - a welcome development at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has catapulted the e-commerce industry, particularly in China.

Indeed, Ant’s foray into public markets could exceed Saudi Aramco’s record $29 billion IPO offering, according to reports. The company has picked China International Capital, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley for its Hong Kong initial public offering, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares of Alibaba were up 2.56% at $253.49 in New York trading.