Jack Ma's Ant Group Marches Forward With Mega IPO

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group formally files for an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai, looking to raise as much as $30 billion, an IPO record.

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group formally filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai on Tuesday, looking to raise as much as $30 billion to fund its expansion plans.

Ant, the online payments affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group  (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Sponsored ADR Report, will use the proceeds from the sale to expand cross-border payments and enhance its research and development capabilities, it said in the filing.

The company did not provide a share price range or amount to be raised in the IPO, though expectations are that it is looking to raise a reported $30 billion, topping Saudi Aramco’s record $29 billion IPO. 

Ant’s advisors are reportedly targeting a valuation of about $225 billion. 

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 and robo-investing in an effort to lure customers back from Tencent Holdings.

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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, Ant Group also operates one of the world’s largest money market funds and runs Zhima Credit, which is is commonly known as Sesame Credit, a "proprietary trust score" credit rating system. 

A public offering in both Hong Kong and Shanghai also will 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.

Meantime, the preliminary IPO filing revealed some previously unknown details about Ant, particularly surrounding Alipay.

According to the filing, Alipay’s total transaction volume reached 118 trillion yuan ($17 trillion) in the 12 months ended in June, with more than 1 billion users and 711 million monthly active users utilizing the payment and transaction service, according to the filing.

More than 80 million merchants leveraged the Alipay app to conduct business, and Ant partnered with more than 2,000 financial institutions, according to the filing.

American depositary receipts of Alibaba were up 0.61% at $277.61 in trading in New York on Tuesday.