E-commerce giant Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial
Beijing - AFP
China's top internet finance company, e-commerce giant Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial, could start the process of going public this year, reports said Monday, with the firm's latest fundraising valuing it at $60 billion.
Ant Financial Services Group, which owns and operates the Paypal-like service Alipay, has met the Chinese listing requirement of three years profitability, Bloomberg News cited unidentified sources as saying.
It (Other OTC: ITGL - news) is planning to list on the Shanghai stock exchange, they said, and could become China's biggest initial public offering (IPO) since 2010.
Ant declined to "comment on market speculations".
Partly owned by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Ant Financial also runs China's largest money market fund and provides financial services focussed on serving small companies.
It is currently seeking private funding of $3.5 billion, Bloomberg reported, valuing it at around $60 billion.
None of China's biggest Internet firms are quoted on its domestic exchanges, "so it could enjoy a significant premium in value if it lists in the country", Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Arete Research Searches told Bloomberg News.
"A lot of the potential retail investors are also Ant Financial?s users," the analyst added.
Alibaba's Taobao platform is estimated to have more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market in China, while Alipay handles around 80 percent of online payments in China.
Last week the companies announced a joint $1.25 billion investment in an online food delivery firm, the latest in a series of acquisitions as Alibaba diversifies its activities from consumer-to-consumer sales to video streaming and print media.
On Monday Alibaba's movie-making division said it signed deals with Paramount Pictures to invest in two new films, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Star Trek Beyond.
Alibaba also just announced a $1.0 billion investment in a leading online shopping platform in Southeast Asia, Lazada.