Chinese fintech Ant Group received approval on Monday for the Hong Kong portion of its initial public offering, according to reports from Reuters and the South China Morning Post, a move that comes a month after it received regulatory consent to list in Shanghai.
The approval in Hong Kong marks the last major step for Ant Group before it can conduct its IPO, Reuters said. The fintech is now seeking to raise $35 billion from the IPO, according to Bloomberg, which noted that it has brought three new firms on board as joint book runners: ICBC International, BOC International and Barclays.
The company’s reported Hong Kong approval comes following media reports that it received a prerequisite consent from the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
A spokesperson for the fintech declined to comment on the reports of the Chinese approval, whether a hearing was held for the Hong Kong listing Monday and, if so, whether the company had scored approval from the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.
The HKEX, where Ant Group is seeking to list, declined to comment, citing a policy against discussing individual companies and listing applications. The company’s other listing will be on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s STAR Market. The Hong Kong approval was granted by the exchange’s listing committee, the reports said.
Ant Group originally disclosed its listing plans for both exchanges in July.
Ant Group has long historical ties with e-commerce company Alibaba. The fintech’s Hong Kong IPO prospectus noted that it is controlled by Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and that the e-commerce company holds a 33% stake in it. Additionally, Ant Group noted that its Alipay business had been spun out from Alibaba in 2011.
In an August Hong Kong filing, Ant Group detailed how it is involved in a myriad of financial areas, including payments, investing, credit and insurance. The firm, which reported steadily rising revenue and profit on a multiyear basis, also said that its older payments segment’s share of revenue has been declining, making up 35.9% for the first half of 2020 in contrast to 54.9% in 2017. Meanwhile, Ant Group said that its financial technology platforms segment, which includes credit, insurance and investments, went from contributing 44.3% of revenue in 2017 to 63.4% for the first half of 2020.
News of the approval comes just days after Ant Group was said to raise its IPO valuation target from $250 billion to at least $280 billion.
Update: This story has been updated to include a response from HKEX.