Ant Group said to win China nod for Hong Kong leg of US$35 billion dual-listing

Ant Group plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and on Shanghai's Star Market.
Ant Group plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and on Shanghai's Star Market.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Jack Ma's Ant Group won a key approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission for its listing in Hong Kong, paving the way for what could be the world's biggest initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Chinese regulator has given Ant a green light to seek a listing hearing with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. as soon as Monday (Oct 19), the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Ant has already won approval from the Shanghai exchange for its onshore listing.

The IFR reported the approval and hearing date earlier on Monday. A representative for Ant declined to comment, while a representative for CSRC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The nod from China's securities watchdog came later than expected, stirring speculation that Ant's IPO was running into roadblocks. The company could raise about US$35 billion (S$47.5 billion) in a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai at a valuation of at least US$280 billion, people have said.

Ant Group's IPO could be the biggest in the world, surpassing Saudi Aramco's record US$29 billion sale. It also will mark a win for the Hong Kong stock exchange that lost many of China's tech stars to US listings.

Ant won't seek cornerstone investors for Hong Kong, but will invite big backers for its Shanghai sale to mitigate price fluctuations, people familiar have said. The Hangzhou-based firm is planning to issue new stock equal to about 11 per cent to 15 per cent of its outstanding shares and split the float evenly between Hong Kong and Shanghai.