Ant Financial Scores $10 Billion in Funding at $150 Billion Valuation
Reuters reported having seen a fundraising document that showed Ant planned to target financial markets both in China and Hong Kong in 2019.
Ant Financial Services Group, operator of China's biggest mobile payment platform Alipay and the world's largest unicorn, closed its latest financing round of $10 billion, raising the firm's valuation to $150 billion, sources told Reuters.
The fundraising was the first time for Ant to target investments outside China. Among major investors were Singapore's sovereign fund GIC Pte Ltd. and state investor Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd., U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus, and Malaysian sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad.
The funding round also brought in private equity firm Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Ant's initial public offering (IPO) has been widely anticipated, though Ant has neither publicly set a timetable, nor chosen a likely stock exchange.
A $150 billion valuation would make Ant's IPO one of the biggest ever comparing with the $104 billion of Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) six years ago. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), China's e-commerce giant that holds a controlling stake in Ant, was valued at $168 billion in 2014.
Alibaba's founder Jack Ma declined to comment. Apparently, Ma had previously opted to list Ant on China's domestic stock markets, but Hong Kong's decision to allow the dual-class share system earlier this year might have paved the path for the future of the world's biggest super unicorn.
Reuters reported having seen a fundraising document that showed Ant planned to list both in China and Hong Kong in 2019, and the investors joining the latest fundraising could expect to exit within one to three years. Ant declined to comment on the document.
Strong demand from investors looking to position themselves ahead of Ant's potential IPO has resulted in a much higher amount than an initial target of up to $5 billion, which Reuters earlier reported.
Four-year-old Ant, which was spun off from Alibaba when the group went public in New York, has diversified over the years into credit services, asset management, and online banking, besides owning the Alipay payment platform.
After becoming a dominant figure in mobile payments, the company invested in internet-based startups, including Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo, food delivery app operator Ele.me, and Indian payment company PayTM.
In fiscal 2018, Ant posted a profit of $1.4 billion, a 65 percent jump from the year before. With the latest funding, Ant was planning to further expand outside China.
The stock of Alibaba was trading at $197.48 per American depositary share intraday Tuesday, slightly below Friday's close of $199.20.
(Reuters contributed to this article)