By Stella Yifan Xie 

HONG KONG--Hong Kong's stock exchange gave Ant Group Co. a green light to proceed with its long-awaited initial public offering in the city, according to a person familiar with the matter, paving the way for what will likely be a record-breaking share sale.

The Hangzhou-based financial-technology giant is expected to file a revised IPO prospectus in the coming days after receiving feedback from the Hong Kong exchange, the person said, noting that a listing hearing on Monday went smoothly.

Ant, the world's most valuable startup and the owner of the highly popular Chinese mobile-payment network Alipay, is planning to go public in Hong Kong and Shanghai at the same time.

The company, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., could raise more than $30 billion with the two offerings and earn a market valuation between $200 billion and $300 billion, the Journal previously reported.

Ant was previously valued at $150 billion in a private fundraising round in mid-2018. The record for the most money gathered by a company going public was Saudi Aramco's IPO last year, which ended up raising $29.4 billion.

Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities, said companies typically need at least two weeks to complete their IPOs and start trading in Hong Kong after obtaining approval from the city's stock exchange. That suggests that Ant won't become a publicly traded company before the first week of November.

Bankers working on the deal earlier told investors that Ant was targeting to listing by late October, and some company insiders had wanted the company to go public before the American presidential election on Nov. 3, the Journal previously reported. Doing so would have enabled Ant to avoid potentially volatile market conditions caused by the election outcome.

Coordinating efforts to list concurrently in Hong Kong and on Shanghai's year-old Science and Technology Innovation Board has been a complicated process, involving regulatory approvals on both ends. Ant, which is controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, will be the first company to list on both markets at the same time since the IPO of Agricultural Bank of China in 2010, which raised $22.1 billion, according to Dealogic.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission earlier this week allowed the Hong Kong portion of Ant's IPO to proceed. The company is in the process of completing a registration with the Chinese securities regulator in order to launch its Shanghai offering, the person familiar with the matter said.

Stock exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong are likely to post updated versions of prospectuses on Ant's listings at the same time, the person added. Ant is planning to hold a listing ceremony in Shanghai, though it may not have an in-person event in Hong Kong due to social-distancing rules in the city that limit the size of gatherings.

Write to Stella Yifan Xie at stella.xie@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 20, 2020 00:04 ET (04:04 GMT)

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