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Ant Group's US$35b IPO unlikely to be hurt by possible US curbs, analysts say

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Ant Group's $35 billion initial public offering (IPO) is unlikely to suffer from any US restrictions on the Chinese financial technology giant due to its very limited overseas presence, potential investors and analysts said.

[HONG KONG] Ant Group's $35 billion initial public offering (IPO) is unlikely to suffer from any US restrictions on the Chinese financial technology giant due to its very limited overseas presence, potential investors and analysts said.

Trump administration officials are considering curbs on Ant, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, and Tencent over concerns their payment platforms threaten national security, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

If implemented, the restrictions would illustrate how Donald Trump's administration is seeking to prevent Chinese companies from embedding themselves in the US financial system before they become a significant competitive threat.

Ant said it was not aware of any discussions within the administration about restrictions. Tencent and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ant is working towards a dual-listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong possibly as soon as this month in what sources have said could be the world's largest IPO, surpassing oil giant Saudi Aramco's US$29.4 billion float in December.

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Ant's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat payment platforms are used primarily by Chinese citizens with accounts in renminbi. Most of their US interactions are with merchants accepting payments from Chinese travelers and businesses in the country.

"Basically the overseas revenue accounts for maybe 5 per cent or less for Ant Group. That means for the US revenue contribution it would be even less than that," said Morningstar senior equity analyst Chelsey Tam.

"I'm sure investors will ask about it during the roadshow but it's quite easy for investors to understand that if Alipay and Wechat Pay go overseas the US is probably not the top priority," Ms Tam said.

Ant, which makes 95 per cent of its revenue in China, is seeking to raise about US$35 billion in an IPO after assessing early investor interest and based on a valuation of about US$250 billion or more, Reuters has reported.

An official at a state-backed Chinese fund, a potential investor in an Ant IPO, said he was not worried about the planned US restrictions as the market only accounted for a tiny portion of the company's overall business.

The official declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

"The ban is more about stopping Ant from expanding in the US in the future, but that shouldn't have an immediate impact on the valuation as there is lot more growth left for Ant in China," said LightStream Research analyst Supun Walpola, who publishes on the Smartkarma platform.

REUTERS

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