Jack Ma’s Ant Group is said to be setting its sights on a $280 billion minimum valuation target for its initial public offering (IPO), which is 12 percent higher than its earlier $250 billion valuation, sources familiar with the deal told Bloomberg on Friday (Oct. 16).
The increase is triggered by an increase in demand, according to the sources. With same-day listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai, this IPO is tracking to be the world’s largest, topping Saudi Aramco’s record $29 billion raise. Ant’s goal is to raise $35 billion.
Any firm filing dual listings in China and Hong Kong must first get approval from the Chinese watchdog and then attend a hearing before a 28-member panel in Hong Kong, the sources noted.
Joint book runners for the Hong Kong sale include Barclays, ICBC International and BOC International. China International Capital Corp, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley will serve as sponsors, and Credit Suisse Group AG will act as joint global coordinator.
The listing has gotten the attention of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte, which is said to be investing over $1 billion in both IPOs. Existing investors Temasek and the National Council for Social Security Fund are reportedly also interested.
Earlier this week, the Ant IPO was delayed over a possible conflict of interest regarding the company’s handling of fund managers. Investors were said to have given access to the upcoming IPO through five funds sold on Ant’s mobile app, Alipay, which was appointed the exclusive, third-party distributor. The five funds in question — China Asset Management, China Universal Asset Management, Zhong Ou Fund Management, Penghua Fund Management and E Fund Management — reportedly raised $9 billion.
The Trump administration, citing U.S. national security, is looking to restrict Ant and its competitor Tencent. Trump’s ban on Tencent’s WeChat got backlash from a magistrate judge, who said on Thursday (Oct. 15) that she wouldn’t uphold a ban. Trump’s team is appealing her earlier decision.
Another twist also came on Thursday when the U.S. State Department proposed that Trump add Ant Group to a list of companies that are banned from purchasing certain technology from U.S. firms.