By Stella Yifan Xie
HONG KONG--Ant Group Co. on Friday won approval from Chinese regulators to launch the Shanghai-leg of an initial public offering that could be among the world's largest.
The financial technology behemoth received the greenlight from China's securities regulator to raise funds on a Nasdaq-style board less than a month after it submitted a dual-listing application to exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong on Aug. 25.
Hangzhou-based Ant Group is set to join the ranks of China's homegrown technology firms that rushed to raise capital from Hong Kong's stock market amid upbeat investor sentiment this year. The company is aiming for a valuation north of $200 billion through the IPO, the Journal reported previously.
The company, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, in recent years has shifted its business model to obtain a growing portion of revenues from technology-related services rather than its own financial business. Ant on Thursday also won approval to set up a new consumer finance company in the southwestern city of Chongqing that will help expand its funding source for its vast consumer loans unit.
Spun off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2011, Ant owns the popular Alipay mobile payments network that has more than 1 billion annual active users and has handled payments of around 118 trillion yuan ($17.5 trillion). It also offers a suite of personal finance services from short-term consumer loans to insurance and mutual funds.
The company was last valued at $150 billion at a private fundraising round in 2018 and is backed by high-profile U.S. investors including Warburg Pincus and Carlyle Group LP.
Write to Stella Yifan Xie at email@example.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This article was corrected on September 21, 2020 because the original incorrectly said the valuation target was north of $200 and misspelled Alibaba's name. Ant Group is aiming for a valuation north of $200 billion through an IPO and was spun off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.