Ant Group is set to raise more than $34bn after setting the price of shares in its initial public offering, putting the Chinese payments group on track to top Saudi Aramco as the biggest ever market listing.

The financial technology company, controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma, will sell shares in a dual listing across Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is expected to make its market debut on November 5.

Ant said it would sell shares for the Shanghai portion, which will trade on the technology-focused Star market, at Rmb68.80 ($10.26) each, according to documents published by the city’s stock exchange on Monday evening. Ant also said it had set the price for its Hong Kong shares at HK$80 (US$10.32).

Together the sale of the roughly 3.34bn shares, which account for 11 per cent of Ant’s total outstanding stock, will fetch $34.4bn. The Shanghai segment alone will bring in Rmb114.9bn ($17.2bn) or more than double the Rmb53bn raised by chipmaker SMIC in July.

The pricings for both share offerings value Ant at about $313bn, roughly on equal footing with Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase. The Chinese company’s valuation could rise to almost $320bn if underwriters on both portions exercise an option to sell additional shares that could bring total funds raised to $39.6bn.

“It’s been a good year for IPOs [in Asia] but this one is hard to miss and I think everyone feels it’s going to do well in the after-market,” said Philippe Espinasse, a Hong Kong-based investment banking consultant, referring to Ant’s potential share price performance after it begins trading.

Ant’s shares will be split evenly between Hong Kong and Shanghai. The share prices of companies that trade on both exchanges frequently diverge, with those in Shanghai often attracting higher valuations.

China’s CSI 300 of Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks has rallied about 15 per cent in 2020, outperforming most big global benchmarks, on investor optimism over the country’s economic recovery from coronavirus. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is down 12 per cent.

Chinese tech groups, including NetEase and JD.com, have raised billions of dollars via secondary share offerings in Hong Kong this year against a backdrop of rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.

The Trump administration has proposed legislation that could force Chinese companies to delist from US markets if they refuse to provide American regulators with access to their audit reports.


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