Alibaba payment arm raises S$5.39 billion

Alibaba payment arm raises S$5.39 billion

Ant Financial, the affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba that runs Alipay, has closed a funding round of over $4 billion (SG$5.39 billion) valuing the company at close to $60 billion dollars, a source close to the deal told CNBC.

Previous media reports had put the funding at $3.1 billion (SG$4.18 billion), but the latest round is significantly higher.

This makes Ant Financial the second-most valuable private technology firm behind US ride hailing app Uber, which is worth over $62 billion (SG$83.56 billion), and ahead of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which has a valuation of $45 billion (SG$60.65 billion).

The roughly $60 billion (SG$80.86 billion) valuation is higher than the $45 billion (SG$60.65 billion) it snagged during its previous funding round last summer.

China's sovereign wealth fund called China Investment Corporation, and China Construction Bank, one of the big four lenders in the country, led the round, according to the source.

JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and China International Capital Corp were the advisers for the deal, which could be announced in the next few days before the Chinese public holiday on May 1, the source added.

Ant Financial runs China's biggest payments service Alipay which boasts a total of 450 million active users and processes 170 million transactions per day.

The company has been on a drive to expand Alipay beyond China, particularly to help Chinese tourists make purchases abroad using its platform.

Alibaba and Ant Financial upped their stake in Indian payments firm Paytm last year as it looks to expand into India. And Sabrina Peng, president of Alipay International, told CNBC earlier this month, that the firm is "actively looking" for more partners in Asia as it looks to go deeper into the region.

Alipay also launched in Europe earlier this month.

Ant Financial is not the only payments company raising large sums of money. The finance unit of rival JD.com - JD Finance - took a 6.65 billion yuan (SG$1.37 billion) funding round in January, valuing it at 46.65 billion yuan (SG$9.7 billion).

The latest funding round will give Ant Financial some clout as it battles against rivals such as JD Finance, Tencent and Baidu, who all offer payments products.

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