Ant Financial Services Group, the Chinese FinTech company that owns the mobile-payment network Alipay, said on Monday that it would list its shares on both the Shanghai stock exchange’s STAR — a Nasdaq-style tech board — and the Hong Kong stock exchange. “Becoming a public company will enhance transparency to our stakeholders, including customers, business partners, employees, shareholders, and regulators,” Ant CEO Eric Jing said in a statement. It would become the first company to list both in Hong Kong and on the STAR Market. The firm is reportedly seeking a $200 billion valuation, which would make Ant’s listing one of the biggest IPOs of 2020. Previously, the Ant Group was valued at about $150 billion in its last round of funding in 2018.
The Ant Group, an affiliate of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, is best known as the firm behind Alipay, which alongside Tencent’s WeChat Pay, has become a popular alternative to cash in China. The Ant Group — spun off from Alibaba in 2011 — has long been preparing to go public in both Hong Kong and mainland China, according to Reuters. Listing on the Shanghai’s STAR board would mark a major step for China, which is looking to attract local tech companies to the mainland Chinese market.
However, the timing of this move coincides with ongoing US-China tensions, which continue to evolve. On June 5, President Trump ordered his advisers to recommend an executive action he could take against US-listed Chinese firms on the New York stock exchange, while Reuters has reported that US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has urged global stock exchanges to tighten rules for Chinese companies. Now, by bypassing the New York stock exchange and going public in both Shanghai and Hong Kong instead, the Ant Group hopes to accelerate its growth in China and abroad. It’s a strong message that the company wants to give Asia’s investors a chance to own stakes in one of China’s biggest technology champions. There’s also the possibility that the Ant Group—by staking a larger global footprint—will in time become a key competitor to other global merchant services. No one is better at playing the long game than China.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.