Ant Group gets green light for Shanghai listing from China regulator


(Reuters) China’s Ant Group has won the final nod from the country’s top securities watchdog for the registration of its Shanghai offering, the regulator said on Wednesday, clearing the last regulatory hurdle for its $35 billion dual-listing.


Ant, the fintech company backed by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba Group Holding BABA.N, plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the coming weeks, sources have said.


The listing could be the world’s largest initial public offering, surpassing the record set by Saudi Aramco’s $29.4 billion float last December. The IPO would also be the first simultaneous listing in Hong Kong and on the year-old STAR Market in Shanghai.


The China Securities Regulatory Commission has accepted the registration of Ant’s domestic float on the Nasdaq-style STAR Market, as part of the local rules. The company filed its preliminary prospectus in late August.


Hangzhou-based Ant on Monday also won approval from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for the offshore leg of its IPO, Reuters has reported.


Ant plans to start a brief pre-marketing period this week before opening order books next week. Its shares are likely to start trading a few days after the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, sources have said.


After receiving initial feedback from potential investors, Ant is looking to increase its offering size to $35 billion from up to $30 billion, targeting a valuation of about $250 billion or more.


If completed, Ant’s IPO would significantly burnish Hong Kong’s status as a capital markets hub, with $28.8 billion worth of IPOs and secondary listings between the start of this year and mid-October, Refinitiv data showed.


That helped Hong Kong to take the second spot in the global stock exchange league table – after Nasdaq – despite fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and anti-government protests.


Ant does not plan to offer a cornerstone tranche in Hong Kong in anticipation of strong demand from institutional investors.


Reuters has reported that China’s National Council for Social Security Fund, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd as well as Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund PIF were weighing potential investments in Ant’s IPO.


Source: Reuters; Reporting by Colin Qian and Ryan Woo in Beijing, Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman

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