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Alibaba's Ant Financial to raise US$2-US$3b in debt: source
[HONG KONG] China's most valuable online finance company, Ant Financial, is in early stage talks with banks to raise between US$2-US$3 billion in debt to fund international expansion, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
Banks have made "soft pitches" to help Ant raise funds, most likely through loans, to be used by the company for acquisitions such as that of MoneyGram International Inc as well as for boosting existing investments, the person said.
Ant, an affiliate of online shopping giant Alibaba Group, was valued at about US$60 billion after a US$4.5 billion funding round last April.
It is set for an initial public offering, although the firm has not specified a timeframe or listing venue.
"It is the market practice for a globalised company like Ant Financial to raise debt in US dollars," a representative of Ant Financial told Reuters, when contacted for comment, but gave no further details.
With 450 million users of its Alipay payment service, Ant is making a concerted push to expand its presence overseas as competition from domestic rival Tencent Holdings Ltd's Wechat payment system heats up at home.
Last month, the firm said it would acquire US money-transfer company MoneyGram for about US$880 million. It has also invested in Indian mobile payment and e-commerce website Paytm and Thai financial technology firm Ascend Money.
Ant is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
Technology news website, The Information, earlier reported that Ant was looking to raise over US$3 billion, citing a person familiar with the matter.