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Ant Group gets nod for HK leg of $35bn dual listing

Ant Group has won approval from China’s securities regulator for the Hong Kong leg of its roughly $35 billion dual listing, sources have told news agencies.

The fintech giant plans to list in both Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market in an initial public offering (IPO) early next month that is expected to be the world’s largest.

Ant, which is backed by Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, has refused to comment on this so far.

China’s top regulatory body was looking into a potential conflict of interest in the planned listing last week, which delayed approval for the IPO.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission was looking into the role of Alipay, Ant’s flagship payment platform, as retail investors’ only third-party channel to buy into five Chinese funds investing in the IPO.

However, Reuters said Refinitiv publication IFR reported the approval from the CSRC early on Monday October 19.

It also said the Commission is set to approve Ant’s Star Market IPO this week.

Ant plans to undertake pre-marketing this week before opening order books next week, IFR reported, saying Ant’s shares are likely to start trading “a few days” after the US presidential election on November 3.

Ant had originally aimed to meet Hong Kong’s bourse on September 24 and launch the IPO after the week-long Chinese National Day holiday that ended on October 8, sources had said.

Ant aims to sell 10% to 15% of its enlarged share capital in the IPO, split evenly between Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Sources have said it does not plan to offer a cornerstone tranche in Hong Kong in anticipation of strong demand from institutional investors.

The dual IPO is expected to surpass Saudi Aramco’s record IPO last December, which raised $29.4 billion.

With reporting by Reuters

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Bangkok since 2000, working as a senior editor at The Nation for 17 years. He worked initially for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through Southeast Asia in the late 90s. He has a family in Bangkok and has travelled through much of Asia.

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