China’s Ant Financial Services Group is in talks with investors to raise at least US$8 billion in its next round of funding, potentially valuing the company at about US$150 billion ahead of its stock market listing, Reuters reports, citing people with knowledge of the plan.
Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings is likely to be the lead investor in the latest round of equity raising by the company, controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma, the people said.
The fundraising plan comes ahead of an expected stock market flotation, though Ant has neither set a timetable for the initial public offering (IPO) nor has it chosen any venue for the same.
One of the people said Ant could end up raising between US$8 billion and US$10 billion, as a result of strong investor demand.
A pre-IPO round is an increasingly common move by sought-after Chinese companies to establish valuations and widen their investor base ahead of going public.
Alibaba said in February it was taking a 33 percent stake in Ant, replacing the previous system where it received 37.5 percent of Ant’s pre-tax profit, in what was viewed as an important step ahead of an IPO.
Alibaba set up Alipay in 2004, modeling the business on PayPal, to help Chinese buyers shop online, and in 2011 controversially spun it off and rebranded the payment processor into Ant Financial three years later.
After becoming a dominant payments company in China, Ant Financial focused on international markets by buying a stake in Indian payment firm Paytm and Thai financial technology firm Ascend Money.
Its attempt to buy US money transfer company MoneyGram International was, however, blocked at the start of this year by US officials on national security grounds.
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