Alibaba's Finance Arm Said to Seek at Least $1.5 Billion

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  • Second round of fundraising comes ahead of planned IPO
  • Some money could be used for acquisitions, person says

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s finance affiliate is seeking at least 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in a second round of fundraising ahead of a planned initial public offering, a person familiar with the matter said.

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Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire chairman Jack Ma, plans to issue stock to existing and new investors, according to the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. The firm, known as Ant Financial, is speaking to potential investors including insurers and other financial institutions, as well as private equity funds and venture capital firms, the person said.

Challenging bricks-and-mortar banks, the Internet-based Ant Financial runs China’s biggest online payment service, Alipay, and controls the company which manages Yu’E Bao, the nation’s largest money-market fund with more than 600 billion yuan of assets. It also holds a stake in MYBank, a private online lender.

Ant Financial was valued at about $45 billion after completing an initial round of fundraising in June 2015, the person said. The company may sell shares in an IPO as early as this year and hasn’t decided yet whether to conduct a third round of financing ahead of that, according to the person. 

Potential Acquisitions

Ant Financial may use money from the current fundraising for acquisitions, the person said, without identifying potential targets. Ant Financial has already invested in companies including India’s One97 Communications Ltd. and Postal Savings Bank of China.

Miranda Shek, a Hangzhou-based spokeswoman for Ant Financial, confirmed a second round of funding while declining to comment on the amount sought or other details.

Prior to Alibaba’s record $25 billion IPO in September 2014, the companies struck a deal which locked in Alibaba’s share of the finance affiliate’s pretax earnings and set terms for Alibaba’s entitlements if Alipay or its parent hold an IPO.

In Ant Financial’s initial fundraising round, the company sold a 12.4 percent stake to outside investors including China’s national social security fund and China Development Bank Capital Co.

— With assistance by Jun Luo, and Lulu Chen

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