Hong Kong: Alipay got its start in 2004 as a way for the customers of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to more easily buy goods online. Now the business’s parent company may be worth $75 billion, or more than Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
That’s the conclusion of Elinor Leung, the head of telecom and Internet research at CLSA in Hong Kong. The number may not even sound that outlandish: Ant Financial, Alipay’s parent company, was valued at about $60 billion in June when it raised $4.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said at the time.
Leung estimates that most of Ant Financial’s value is in Alipay, China’s most popular online payment service, with a projected worth of $50 billion. Its micro loans service is probably worth another $8 billion, while Ant’s wealth management unit is given a valuation of $7 billion. The rest of Ant Financial’s valuation comes from investments and cash on hand, outstripping Goldman’s roughly $70 billion market value as of Monday.
“Alipay has a very strong leadership in terms of online payment ecosystem,” Leung said. “Alipay is not just for payment.” It is also a “big distribution platform for Ant Financial’s other products.”
The company could grow to $100 billion in two years, as the current valuation doesn’t include growth brought in by insurance, credit scoring and cloud computing, Leung said.
Ant Financial is considering an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong in the first half of next year, people familiar with the matter said last month. If it goes ahead, Ant Financial could rank among Hong Kong’s largest debuts ever. Even a 10% float, lower than average for the city’s market, could end up raising $6 billion based on Ant’s June-round valuation. Ant is controlled by Alibaba chairman Jack Ma and Alibaba would benefit from such an IPO through either an option to buy a one third stake or a one-time payment. Bloomberg