Ant Group to raise up to $34.4bn in world’s biggest IPO

The logo of Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba's financial affiliate, is pictured at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China October 26, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 October 2020

Ant Group to raise up to $34.4bn in world’s biggest IPO

  • The deal would value Ant at more than $313 billion before a so-called greenshoe option for a 15 percent overallotment of shares

HONG KONG: Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group has set terms for a dual listing aimed at raising up to $34.4 billion from the world’s largest stock market debut, with investors scrambling for a piece of the fast-growing company.

The deal would value Ant at more than $313 billion before a so-called greenshoe option for a 15 percent overallotment of shares. At that valuation, Ant is worth more than Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets.

The looming market debut, however, is clouded by concerns over growing regulatory scrutiny of Ant’s lucrative consumer credit business as well as a US State Department proposal to add the fintech group to a trade blacklist.

Global investors, however, have largely shrugged off those concerns as they bet on continued rapid growth of a group that also operates China’s biggest mobile payments platform and distributes wealth management and insurance products.

Alibaba interest

It has earmarked 80 percent of its domestic offering to 29 strategic investors that will be locked up for at least one year and will also include a wholly owned unit of technology giant Alibaba and China’s National Council for Social Security Fund.

While the Alibaba unit has agreed to purchase 44 percent of the Shanghai float, large Chinese insurers and mutual funds will also have shares allocated via the strategic investor route, Monday’s filing showed.

Referring to Ant’s float as a “miracle,” the billionaire founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, on Saturday told a conference in Shanghai that it is the first time the pricing for such a big listing has been determined outside New York.

Headquartered in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Ant is aiming to raise about $17.2 billion in Shanghai and roughly the same in Hong Kong, Ant said in filings to the two exchanges late on Monday.


US sanctions Chinese and Russian firms over Iran trade

Updated 47 min 23 sec ago

US sanctions Chinese and Russian firms over Iran trade

  • Four companies accused of ‘transferring sensitive technology and items’ to missile program

LONDON: The US has slapped economic sanctions on four Chinese and Russian companies that Washington claims helped to support Iran’s missile program.

The four were accused of “transferring sensitive technology and items to Iran’s missile program” and will be subject to restrictions on US government aid and their exports for two years, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The sanctions, imposed on Wednesday, were against two Chinese-based companies, Chengdu Best New Materials and Zibo Elim Trade, as well as Russia’s Nilco Group and joint stock company Elecon.

“These measures are part of our response to Iran’s malign activities,” said Pompeo. “These determinations underscore the continuing need for all countries to remain vigilant to efforts by Iran to advance its missile program. We will continue to work to impede Iran’s missile development efforts and use our sanctions authorities to spotlight the foreign suppliers, such as these entities in the PRC and Russia, that provide missile-related materials and technology to Iran.”

The Trump administration has ramped up sanctions on Tehran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

Earlier this week, Pompeo met Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, when the campaign of pressure on the Iranian regime was also discussed.

“I want to thank Kuwait for its support of the maximum pressure campaign. Together, we are denying Tehran money, resources, wealth, weapons with which they would be able to commit terror acts all across the region,” he said.

It is not yet clear how the incoming administration of Joe Biden will deal with Tehran and whether it wants to revive the nuclear deal which would be key reviving the country’s battered economy. The Iranian rial has lost about half of its value this year against the dollar, fueling inflation and deepening the damage to the economy.

Iran’s economy would grow as much as 4.4 percent next year if sanctions were lifted, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said last week. 

The economy is expected to contract by about 6.1 percent in 2020 according to IIF estimates.