Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 6 December 2020

Jack Ma's Alibaba to buy a fifth of Ant shares in mega IPO

The financial services giant aims to raise about $35bn from a dual listing, surpassing Saudi Aramco’s record $29bn sale last year

The headquarters of Ant Group and Alipay in Shanghai, China. Ant Group is the parent company of China's largest mobile payments business Alipay and is planning an initial public offering simultaneously at the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. EPA
The headquarters of Ant Group and Alipay in Shanghai, China. Ant Group is the parent company of China's largest mobile payments business Alipay and is planning an initial public offering simultaneously at the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. EPA

Alibaba Group agreed to subscribe to more than a fifth of Ant Group’s imminent initial public offering, propping up its part-owned fintech giant’s potentially $35 billion debut.

Asia’s largest corporation will buy 730 million of about 1.67 billion Shanghai-listed A shares as part of a placement to strategic investors, the e-commerce giant said in a stock exchange filing. Including the Hong Kong tranche of its IPO, Ant intends to sell a total of 3.3 billion shares.

In addition, the financial services giant plans to issue about 1.16 billion Hong Kong-listed or H shares to Alibaba, part of a distribution of about 3.26 billion shares to existing backers.

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s Ant Group is racing toward what could be the world’s largest ever coming-out party, slated for sometime over the coming weeks. The IPO shares deal helps Alibaba prevent the dilution of its stake after Ant goes public. The Chinese e-commerce giant will hold about 32 per cent of its affiliate’s shares after the IPO, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ant’s IPO is said to have drawn interest from strategic investors including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte, Temasek Holdings and China’s $318bn National Council for Social Security Fund. That strong demand means the Alipay operator could fetch a valuation of at least $280bn, despite concern that people within the Trump administration are exploring restrictions on the Chinese fintech giant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ant reported a 74 per cent jump in gross profit to 69.5bn yuan ($10.4bn) from January to September, according to an A-share prospectus posted to the Shanghai exchange.

Mr Ma’s Ant Group is asking buyers of what could be the world’s biggest-ever initial public offering to commit to the deal just days before the US presidential election.

The Chinese fintech giant will price the Shanghai portion of its dual listing on October 27 and allow subscriptions on October 29, it said in a prospectus published on Wednesday. The deadline for payments will be November 2. Ant hasn’t yet spelled out dates for the Hong Kong leg of the IPO, but they’re expected to be similar.

While the company’s share sale is among the most hotly anticipated deals in years, the timeline will leave investors in a potentially precarious position: locked in during a pivotal week for global markets. Shares will almost certainly start trading only after the US vote on November 3, an event that could have big ramifications for both Ant’s overseas expansion plans and investor risk-appetite generally.

Ant won regulatory approval for its Shanghai listing on Wednesday. It’s planning to raise about $35bn from the dual listing, surpassing Saudi Aramco’s record $29bn sale last year, people familiar with the matter have said.

An Ant representative declined to comment.

The company will issue no more than 1.67 billion shares in China, equivalent to 5.5 per cent of the total outstanding before the so-called greenshoe option, according to its prospectus on the Shanghai stock exchange. It will issue the same amount for its Hong Kong offering.

Ant’s Shanghai shares will be listed under the ticker “688688,” according to the prospectus. Alibaba will hold about 32 per cent of Ant shares after the IPO.

Stong demand in the IPO means Ant may fetch a valuation equivalent to Bank of America and Goldman Sachs combined, despite concern that rising geopolitical risks could hamper the Chinese company’s international ambitions.

Updated: October 22, 2020 08:49 AM

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email
Most Read