The financial arm of Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba received Monday a green light from Chinese regulators to list in Hong Kong, according to data published online, another step toward the biggest IPO in history.
Ant Group aims to raise a massive $35 billion via the share sale in a joint listing in the semi-autonomous finance hub and Shanghai, Bloomberg News has previously reported, citing unnamed sources.
The company is looking to raise the cash – far more than the $29 billion chalked up by Saudi Aramco in December – in a split float between the two Chinese cities, Bloomberg said.
The plan values Ant Group at about $250 billion, it added.
The company runs Alipay, the dominant online payment system in China, where cash, checks and credit cards have long been eclipsed by e-payment devices and apps.
According to a report in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Ant Group has also been granted approval by the city’s stock exchange.
In September, the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market platform gave its go-ahead for a listing, which meant the Hangzhou-based firm only needs a final, formal approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
In its August filing, Ant said it would use the proceeds to expand cross-border payments and enhance its research-and-development capabilities.
The decision not to list in New York is a big loss for US markets and comes as Washington ramps up scrutiny of Chinese tech firms.
A number of high-profile Chinese firms – especially those in the tech sector – have turned to Hong Kong owing to tension between Washington and Beijing.
It is also a shot in the arm for Hong Kong as fears mount over the potential fallout of Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law on the city.