Ant Financial raises $ 14 billion in the world’s largest fundraiser



SHANGHAI / BEIJING (Reuters) – Ant Financial Services Group, operator of China's largest online payment platform, said on Friday that it raised about $ 14 billion in what market watchers called the highest collection of funds worldwide made by a private company.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Ant Financial Services Group, a financial subsidiary of Alibaba, appears at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, on January 24, 2018. Photograph taken on January 24, 2018. REUTERS / Shu Zhang

Cash will boost Ant's fire power ahead of an anticipated initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong and mainland China next year, although the company has not established a public timetable nor picked a possible stock market of values.

The exercise amounted to the largest round of fundraising confirmed in history, according to data provider Crunchbase.

Ant Financial, spin-off of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd before the 2014 listing of the e-commerce company, has played an important role in shaping China's financial technology landscape. It oversees the largest mobile payment application in what is increasingly becoming a cashless society.

In a statement, Ant said the financing included both US dollars and tranches of Chinese yuan. The part of the dollar made more than $ 10 billion, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Singapore-listed sovereign wealth fund (SWF) GIC Pte Ltd [GIC.UL] and state-owned investor Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd [TEM.UL] as well as the US private equity firm. UU Warburg Pincus LLC [WP.UL] as participants in the dollar tranche.

Other global investors included the Malaysian SWF Khazanah Nasional Bhd [KHAZA.UL] the Pension Plan Investment Board of Canada and the US private equity firms Silver Lake and General Atlantic, he said.

Ant did not disclose the details of its valuation after the financing round. Reuters previously reported that Ant is likely to be valued at around $ 150 billion, making it one of the most valuable financial firms in the world.

"It is the most positioned TechFin company in the world," said Ben Zhou, CEO of Warburg Pincus, who led the firm's investment in Ant.

Participants in the yuan tranche were mainly existing shareholders, said Ant. Among them was Boyu Capital, a private equity firm focused on China, which invested in both the yuan and dollar tranches, said two of the people with knowledge of the matter, who did not want to identify because the details were private.

Ant declined to comment on specific investors beyond those disclosed in his statement. Boyu did not respond immediately to requests for comments.

Ant, in his statement, said he would use the funds to accelerate the globalization plans for his Alipay payment platform and invest in the development of financial technology.

The figures seen by Reuters showed that, in five years, Ant expects 65% of revenues to come from business-oriented financial technology, including badistance to banks and other institutions, as well as to the provision of fraud prevention.

The emphasis on business comes when Ant shifts the focus of consumer finance in China amid more regulatory scrutiny of financial risk.

However, it aims to reach 2 billion consumers worldwide with its payment network in the coming years, backed by investments and strategic partnerships with payment companies in Southeast Asia, as well as agreements in South Korea, Japan and India.

"Now, with the help of our partners, we are going to accelerate our strategy," said Ant CEO Eric Jing.

In addition to payments, Ant also offers consumer finance products, including credit services, wealth management products and microcredits.

Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, China International Capital Corp, CITIC Securities, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisers to Ant.

Report of Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI, Cate Cadell in BEIJNG, and Julie Zhu and Kane Wu in HONG KONG; Edited by Miral Fahmy and Christopher Cushing

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