An Ant Group mascot is seen in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. (Photo: China Daily)
Ant Group, which operates the mobile payment service Alipay, said on Monday that it has started discussions for a concurrent listing of its shares on the Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses.
The decision to float shares on the STAR Market in Shanghai, a Nasdaq-like board, as well as the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, will "help the company accelerate its goal of digitizing the service industry in China and driving domestic demand", said a statement issued by the fintech giant and affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
"The innovative measures implemented by the Shanghai STAR Market and the stock exchange of Hong Kong have opened the door for global investors to access leading-edge technology companies from the most dynamic economies in the world, and for those companies to have access to the capital markets," Ant Executive Chairman Eric Jing said in a news release.
Ant did not disclose the size of its planned listing nor the timing. But the Hangzhou-based company is targeting a valuation of more than $200 billion, according to sources quoted by Reuters.
Ant, which provides services from digital payment to online financing, said it aims to create the infrastructure and platform to support the digital transformation of the service industry. It also strives to "enable all consumers and small businesses to have equal access to financial and other services that are inclusive, green and sustainable".
"Becoming a public company will enhance transparency to our stakeholders, including customers, business partners, employees, shareholders and regulators," Jing said. "Through our commitment to serving the underserved, we make it possible for the whole of society to share our growth."
Charles Li, chief executive of the Hong Kong bourse, said in a tweet that they look forward to welcoming the world's most innovative and progressive global companies.
"We are delighted that Ant Group has today confirmed that they will be seeking a listing on HKEX," Li said. "Their intention to float an IPO in Hong Kong, as well as in the mainland market, affirms Hong Kong's role as the world's leading international IPO market."
In a separate statement, the Shanghai Stock Exchange said Ant's decision demonstrates the attraction and global competitiveness of the STAR Market as the "first choice" for innovative technology companies in China to get listed.
"The Shanghai Stock Exchange will hold on to the mission of the STAR Market and continue to support more high-quality companies to apply for listing. We will improve and expand the STAR Market to promote the high-quality development of the Chinese economy," it said.
A concurrent listing on the two exchanges would be the first such fundraising exercise by a privately held company. Alipay and its local wallet partners served more than 1.2 billion users across the world by June 2019, the company said in October.