Jack Ma’s mobile payments and online finance vehicle is on track to become the biggest unicorn ever as well as one of the world’s most valuable companies, in the lead up to its next round of private fund-raising.
Sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal said Ant Financial Services Group, first established by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group seven years ago on the foundation of mobile payments network Alipay, is now expected to raise as much as USD$9 billion via private funding, as compared to a previous target of $5 billion.
The fund-raising round could put Ant’s value at nearly $150 billion, vaulting it to the position of the world’s largest unicorn, or private company with a value in excess of $1 billion.
According to the sources Ant is currently in discussions with prospective investors, who have expressed strong interest in acquiring a stakes the company. Both Chinese and foreign investors have already subscribed to over $3 billion of Ant’s shares.
Ant raised $4.5 billion during its last round of fundraising back in April 2016, putting its valuation at approximately $60 billion.
The company has seen impressive growth over the past several years, with Alipay expanding both domestically and abroad, and Ant diversifying the range of financial services it provides to both individuals and enterprises.
Ant is the largest mobile payments platform in the world, processing over $1 trillion in payments last year for more than 520 million users, while its asset management arm currently runs the world’s biggest money-market fund.
Earlier this week executive chair of Ant Lucy Peng stepped down from the position, to be replaced by current CEO Xian Dong.