What's going on?
Ant Financial – the fintech business of Chinese internet giant Alibaba – announced plans for an initial public offering (IPO) that could value it at an unsquishable $200 billion.
What does this mean?
Ant – which owns ubiquitous Chinese payment service Alipay – said it plans to list its shares on both the Hong Kong stock exchange and China’s tech-focused Star Market, which should help more global investors buy into the stock if they’re keen to.
Ant hasn’t said exactly when it wants to “go public” yet, or how much it aims to raise when it does. But when the company last raised money from private investors in 2018, it was valued at $150 billion – making it the world’s largest unicorn. Since then, some of its investors – including the world’s biggest investment manager BlackRock – have upped their assessments of what it’s worth, suggesting the upcoming IPO could value the company at $200 billion.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Heir appar-ant.
The rapid demise of German payment processor Wirecard last month might’ve encouraged Ant to accelerate its expansion plans. Wirecard, after all, claimed it had a booming business across parts of Southeast Asia – and given that things in the region weren’t quite as they seemed, it could present more of an opportunity than Ant initially thought. But the company’s ambitions don’t stop at financial and payment processing: it aims to start selling a greater proportion of tech services like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, risk management, and blockchain.
For markets: Bit of a disappointm-ant.
Data out last week showed the Chinese economy grew by a more-than-expected 3.2% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. The manufacturing industries that make up the majority of China’s economy appear to have recovered, but consumer spending was weaker than predicted. Ant’s investors in particular will want to see spending pick up soon, especially since so much of it is done via the company’s platform.