Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is lifting its fundraising target to more than $12 billion by bringing in existing Chinese shareholders in a yuan-denominated financing round, people familiar with the matter said. The online financial services giant is shooting for at least $2 billion of additional funding in a yuan round that lets Chinese investors participate, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. That will come on top of a recent $10 billion round that valued Ant Financial at $150 billion and targeted overseas investors such as Warburg Pincus and Temasek Holdings Pte, the people said.
Ant’s existing backers including sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. are considering taking part in the yuan financing, they added. The original $10 billion funding, which Bloomberg News reported earlier, has attracted investors including Carlyle Group and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. A $150 billion valuation would make Ant the world’s largest fintech firm and equip it with enormous resources for expansion. And it heralds the much-anticipated initial public offering of a company that’s already China’s biggest online payments service through Alipay and controls the world’s largest money market fund.
The capital infusion can also aid Ant’s battle with Tencent Holdings Ltd. for consumers, while helping the company weather more stringent regulatory clampdowns. Ant Financial declined to comment. CIC didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Ant, which was spun off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2011, is formally known as Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group. Spanning online payments, insurance, lending, credit scores, asset management and more, the behemoth resembles a mashup of PayPal, Geico, Wells Fargo and Equifax — with a bit of BlackRock thrown in.
Thanks to clever mobile apps and a burgeoning Chinese middle class, Ma’s company handles more than $2.4 trillion of mobile payments every three months. Many of the company’s 870 million customers rely on it for nearly every aspect of their financial lives. The Hangzhou-based company posted a 65 percent jump in pretax profit, rising to 9.18 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in the fiscal year ended March, according to Bloomberg calculations based on company filings.
In February, Alibaba announced plans to buy a 33 percent stake that would give the e-commerce giant its first ownership of the affiliate since it was controversially spun out. Ant’s Alipay has been instrumental in driving Alibaba’s business and is increasingly employed in stores around the world, shadowing the movements of Chinese tourists. It’s now drumming up its presence overseas via investments into India’s Paytm and Thailand’s Ascend Money, an arm of the agriculture-to-telecommunications conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group.