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Exclusive: Ant may raise up to $17 billion in Shanghai IPO leg as investors submit bids, say sources

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Ant Group could raise up to $17.3 billion in the Shanghai leg of the likely $35 billion dual listing, the world’s largest ever, after some large investors submitted bids in the range of 68-69 yuan per share, people with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: Ant Group logo is pictured at the Shanghai office of Alipay, owned by Ant Group which is an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in Shanghai, China September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The simultaneous listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai of the Chinese financial technology giant, backed by e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, would beat the previous largest IPO, Saudi Aramco’s $29.4 billion float last December.

The pricing for the Shanghai tranche of the initial public offering was decided on Friday, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said on Saturday, without disclosing the price.

“It’s the first time that the pricing of such a big listing - the largest in human history - has been determined outside New York City,” he told the Bund Summit in the eastern financial hub of Shanghai, referring to Ant’s float as a “miracle”.

Later on Saturday, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters many large Chinese fund managers had bid for Ant shares in the listing on the Nasdaq-style STAR Market in Shanghai at close to 69 yuan ($10.32) apiece.

At 69 yuan per share, Ant could raise up to 115.3 billion yuan ($17.3 billion) in the Shanghai tranche, valuing the company as a whole at up to 2.1 trillion yuan ($314 billion), before a 15% greenshoe or over-allotment option is exercised.

Under local market rules, the final price for the IPO, which would also be the first dual-listing in Hong Kong and on the year-old STAR, is based on guidance from large investors.

The people declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Ant declined to comment on the pricing.

GOOD FORTUNE

The IPO would burnish the Shanghai-based exchange’s status as a fast-growing capital markets center, at a time when rising Sino-U.S. tensions have triggered concerns about the prospects of listing of Chinese companies in New York.

Ant has chosen the stock code 688688 for its Shanghai listing, which for Chinese speakers combines two of the luckiest or most auspicious numbers, together symbolizing long-lasting prosperity and good fortune in Chinese culture.

Books for the Shanghai leg of the float will open for one day on Oct. 29.

Ant plans to sell up to 1.67 billion shares in the Shanghai float, which is set to be the biggest IPO in China, eclipsing the record set by Agricultural Bank of China’s $10.1 billion Shanghai float in 2010, according to Refinitiv data.

Strategic investors, whose investments in Ant’s STAR IPO will be locked up for at least 12 months, will account for 80% of the Shanghai float.

Among them are Zhejiang Tmall Technology, a unit of Alibaba, which has committed to purchase 44% of the Shanghai float, according to Ant’s updated prospectus.

Ant aims to split the share sale evenly between Hong Kong and Shanghai, selling up to 11% of its enlarged share capital.

For the Hong Kong leg, Ant plans to open order books as soon as Monday and price the offering in coming days, separate sources have said.

Ant did not immediately respond to request for comment on the Hong Kong timetable late on Saturday.

Its shares are likely to start trading a few days after the U.S. presidential election, which could fuel a spike in market volatility.

Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu in Hong Kong and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Mike Harrison and David Holmes

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