Ant Group lines up dual listing on Hong Kong and Shanghai markets

Ant Financial

Ant Group, the FinTech wing of Alibaba Group, has stated that it has begun the process of a dual listing in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s market, kicking off one of the world’s most hotly anticipated listing events.

KEY POINTS:

  • Ant Group is to have a dual listing in Shanghai’s STAR Market and in Hong Kong
  • The IPO is amongst the most highly anticipated of the year
  • The company was originally spun-off from Alibaba back in 2011
  • At its last round of fundraising, the business was valued at some $150 billion

Ant Financial is deemed to be one of the world’s most valuable tech “unicorns”. It would become the first company to list both in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market. The IPO itself should further boost the status of both Shanghai and Hong Kong as global capital markets, although with geopolitical tensions between China and the rest of the world rising, tech investments in Chinese operated businesses may become under question.

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The company, which is the dominant mobile payments company in China, did not disclose the value, or timetable of the offering in its statement.

The news agency Reuters had reported earlier this month that Ant was planning to float in the Hong Kong market as soon as this year, with a target valuation in the region of $200 billion. The FinTech was previously valued at about $150 billion during its last round of funding in 2018.

Ant Financial, which was spun off from Alibaba nearly a decade ago, has been preparing to step up plans for going public. The company offers consumer loans, online payments, insurance products and various asset management services via its popular mobile apps.

Ant has been trying to expand its offering beyond financial services by allowing external companies to offer synergistic services such as delivery and hotel bookings on its Alipay mobile payment platform. The dual listing event will help the business with this strategy.

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“The innovative measures implemented by SSE STAR market and the SEHK have opened the doors for global investors to access leading edge technology companies from the most dynamic economies in the world” said Ant Group’s chair, Eric Jing.

China is gradually switching from its tightly-controlled IPO system where every float needs approval to a more registration-based scheme similar to the United States and other developed markets, which it piloted with the launch of Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR Market last year.

In late March, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, operator of the STAR Market, said the board could now include FinTech and IT services businesses.

JD Digits, the FinTech business unit of e-commerce JD.com, has also been preparing for going public on the STAR Market.

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Hong Kong implemented listing reforms in 2018 that paved the way for tech firms with weighted voting rights and for early-stage biotechnology companies to list.

Companies raised nearly $7 billion via IPO’s on the STAR Market in the first half of this year, making the bourse the second biggest market globally for IPO’s, behind only the Nasdaq.

Initial reporting via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Julie Zhu. Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Kane Wu in Hong Kong. Editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton. Commentary by Rob Phillips.

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