Ant Group Nears Giant IPO After Green Light From Hong Kong's Exchange
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
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
Write to Stella Yifan Xie at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 20, 2020 00:04 ET (04:04 GMT)
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