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Ant Group Greases IPO Trail

Jackie Bennion, Deputy Editor, 25 September 2020

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With reports saying that it could come as early as October, Asian investors are watching for what could be the biggest global IPO to date.

Alibaba affliliate Ant Group's plans to list in Hong Kong and Shanghai took another step forward this week. Owned by one of China’s richest men, Jack Ma, the fintech that dominates China's mobile payments market is seeking to raise around $35 billion in dual listings that are due to unleash a new crop of billionaires.

By most accounts, investor appetite for the financial services giant is strong enough for the company not to have to lock in cornerstone investors who are often vital to successful offerings in the region.

The Hangzhou-based firm, reshaped by Ma over the last five years into a cloud-based services powerhouse, has yet to comment on the details of the listing, but it is expected to issue between 11 and 15 per cent of its shares. These should be evenly split between Hong Kong and Shanghai for an overall market valuation of roughly $250 billion in what could be the world’s largest IPO if all the indicators are to be believed.

In fillings on Tuesday, the group said that five companies have agreed to subscribe through new mutual funds aimed at raising $1.8 billion each, with Ant’s share capped at 10 per cent. Last Friday, Shanghai regulators signalled their approval of the listing, with Hong expected to follow by the middle of next week, according to Bloomberg and other reports.

It has stirred speculation that the Asian IPO could top state oil company Saudi Aramco’s troubled if bumper $29 billion listing last December, pushing Ant’s market cap beyond Bank of America’s and double that of Ciigroup, in a size-matters rivalry that isn’t the only one building between US and China-owned operations.

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