Ant Financial looks to raise $9bn in private funding round

11 Apr 2018

Ant Financial could become a fintech juggernaut. Image: DWI YULIANTO/Shutterstock

China’s Ant Financial could see its valuation skyrocket after latest fundraising round.

Ant Financial – the payments company controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma – could become the most valuable start-up in the world if it succeeds in raising $9bn in a private funding round, according to The Wall Street Journal sources.

Ant Financial owns Alipay, one of China’s biggest payment platforms.

A fintech giant in the making

If the deal is a success, Ant Financial may be valued at $150bn, becoming the world’s biggest fintech company and start-up.

Alibaba plans to acquire a one-third stake in Ant Financial. The e-commerce giant last had a stake in Alipay in 2011, the year in which Ma spun out the business. Ant Financial is based in Alibaba’s hometown, Hangzhou.

Temasek Holdings, a state investment firm based in Singapore, is said to want to be the lead investor ahead of Ant Financial’s IPO.

The last time Ant Financial raised funds in terms of equity was in 2016, when it secured $4bn.

Bloomberg reported that the company is boosting its overseas presence with recent investments made in India’s Paytm and Ascend Money in Thailand.

Obstacles encountered

The fintech’s ascent has not been without its setbacks. Its US expansion was hindered by the US government failing to approve the multimillion-dollar merger between MoneyGram and Ant Financial.

At the time the deal fell through, MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes said: “The geopolitical environment has changed considerably since we first announced the proposed transaction with Ant Financial nearly a year ago. Despite our best efforts to work cooperatively with the US government, it has now become clear that [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] will not approve this merger.”

As well as the damage the MoneyGram incident caused, Ant Financial is also facing competition from Chinese rival Tencent as well as regulatory scrutiny in the country.

Updated, 11.20am, 11 April 2018: This article was updated to correct a mistaken reference to $10bn, which should have read $9bn to correspond with a figure cited by The Wall Street Journal.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects