Chinese fintech giant Ant to go public in dual Shanghai-Hong Kong IPO

Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial

Bobby Yip | Reuters

Chinese fintech firm Ant Group has begun the process of a concurrent initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Ant, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, said Monday that it would list its shares on both the Shanghai stock exchange’s STAR — a Nasdaq-style tech board — and the Hong Kong stock exchange. The dual listing will help Ant “accelerate its goal of digitizing the service industry in China,” the company said.

“Becoming a public company will enhance transparency to our stakeholders, including customers, business partners, employees, shareholders and regulators,” Ant CEO Eric Jing said in a statement. “Through our commitment to serving the under-served, we make it possible for the whole of society to share our growth.”

Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial, did not disclose how much it was seeking to raise in the dual IPOs or when it would go public. Ant is best known as the firm behind the Alipay mobile wallet, which alongside Tencent’s WeChat Pay has become a wildly popular alternative to cash in China.

It is the world’s largest so-called “unicorn” company, with a reported valuation of $ 150 billion. The company’s listing could mark one of the biggest IPOs of 2020, in the face of a tough global economic environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The firm is reportedly seeking a $ 200 billion valuation.

Listing on the STAR board would mark a major win for China, which is looking to attract local tech stars to the mainland Chinese market. Last week, China’s biggest chipmaker SMIC debuted on the STAR market, seeing its shares more than triple in the first day of trading.

It also shows that Hong Kong may still be seen as an attractive option for companies, despite domestic and geopolitical tensions over the introduction of a new national security law in the special autonomous region last month.

—CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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