Jack Ma’s mobile payments firm Ant Group plans flotation | Business

Jack Ma’s mobile payments firm Ant Group plans flotation | Business

The Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s mobile payments firm has announced plans to float on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges in a move that could value the company at $225bn (£169bn).

Ant Group could raise as much as $30bn in the flotation, which would make it the world’s largest initial public offering, overtaking the $25.6bn raised in the Saudi Aramco IPO in December 2019.

In its stock market filing, Ant Group said it would use the funds raised to “further pursue [its] vision to digitalise the service industry”. It did not disclose either the timetable or size of the IPO in its filing, although it has been suggested that the flotation could be in October and that up to 15% of a $200bn-$300bn valuation for the firm would be sought.

Jack Ma

Jack Ma’s e-commerce business Alibaba owns a 33% stake in Ant Group. Photograph: Thibault Camus/AP

Ant Group is 33%-owned by the e-commerce business Alibaba and controlled by the latter’s founder, Ma, , who started Alibaba in a one-bedroom flat in China 21 years ago. The 55-year-old is the 21st-richest person in the world, with an estimated $53.5bn fortune, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.

The Ant Group’s stock market filing revealed the firm collected 72.5bn yuan ($10.5bn) in revenue in the first half of the year, up nearly 40% on the same period in 2019. Profits were nearly 12 times greater at 21.9bn yuan, underlining how the firm had benefited from the coronavirus lockdown.

The group’s best-known business is Alipay, the largest player in China’s 430tn yuan third-party mobile payments market, according to the market research firm Qianzhan. Alipay had 711 million monthly active users as of June, with payment volumes reaching 118tn yuan in China, Ant’s filings showed.

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