In the largest-ever fundraising by a private Internet company, Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial Services Group closed the Series B round of funding at $4.5 billion, the company said on Tuesday. Ant Financial did not disclose the company's valuation post funding, but it is valued at approximately $60 billion, a person familiar with the matter was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The funding was led by China Investment Corp Capital and CCB Trust, a subsidiary of China Construction Bank. Existing investors such as China Life, China Post Group, China Development Bank Capital and Primavera Capital Group also participated in the Series B funding.
"This new round of funding will support Ant Financial in its goal to expand access to financial services in China's rural areas, while also fuelling the company's globalization," the firm said in a statement.
Ant Financial's current valuation at $60 billion is a significant boost from $45 billion during the previous funding round last year. The firm is planning an initial public offering (IPO) of its own to be listed in both domestic and offshore stock exchanges, Cyril Han, Ant Financial's vice-president, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying, but he did not give a timeline for the process.
Ant Financial is behind China's various large-scale businesses, including the country's largest online payments platform Alipay, China's largest online-money-market fund Yu's Bao and online-based MYBank banking operations.
Ant Financial, earlier known as Alipay, split from the Alibaba Group in 2011 â€” three years before the online company's $25 million record listing on the New York stock exchange. The financial-services operation has grown from online-payment platform (Alipay) to online wealth-management and banking over the years.
Ant Financial faces stiff competition from Tencent Holding's WeChat Payment in the online payments platform, but the company has grown to become on the world's largest payment systems. Alipay has more than 450 million monthly active users, which in perspective is larger than the population of the U.S. and the U.K. combined. The company has started expanding its services out of China by investing in Indian payment start-up One97, which runs the country's largest Paytm payment services for 122 million users, according to Forbes.