GIC plans to invest more than $1 billion in Ant IPO

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC plans to invest more than $1 billion in Ant Group’s mega initial public offering as early investors look for a bigger slice of the Chinese payments behemoth, according to people familiar with the matter.

GIC and Singaporean state investor Temasek are considering participating in both the Hong Kong and Shanghai legs of the listing, which could together raise as much as $35 billion, the people said. China’s $318 billion National Council for Social Security Fund, Beijing, plans to purchase shares in the mainland sale, they added, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

Jack Ma’s Ant is poised to list as early as this month in Hong Kong and on the tech-focused STAR board in what could be the world’s biggest IPO, topping Saudi Aramco’s record sale. Interest in the Alibaba Group affiliate prompted it to increase its IPO target based on a valuation of about $250 billion, up from previous estimates of $225 billion, people familiar have said. At that market capitalization it would be bigger than Bank of America and twice the size of Citigroup.

The investment plans are preliminary and subject to change, the people said. Ant, GIC and Temasek declined to comment. China’s National Council for Social Security Fund didn’t respond to a request for comment made on a public holiday.

Interest in the IPO has prompted Ant to shun a Hong Kong tradition of lining up cornerstone investors to ensure the success of large deals. Cornerstones are usually institutions that agree to hold the shares for about six months in exchange for a sizable allocation.

Still, Ant can control what it allocates to strategic investors in the financial hub and plans to lock in institutional investors for the mainland listing to stabilize prices on the A-share market, known for its retail investor frenzy.

GIC and Temasek both invested in Ant’s 2018 funding round, which valued the company at about $150 billion. China’s national pension fund was reported to have bought a 5% stake in 2015, when Ant’s valuation was pegged at $45 billion.

Reuters previously reported that GIC and Temasek were considering investing in Ant’s IPO, while the South China Morning Post reported on interest from the pension fund.

The Hangzhou-based company is still awaiting an approval hearing with the Hong Kong stock exchange to clear the next key hurdle for its listing, the people said. It has already received a green light from the Chinese securities watchdog.

GIC has more than $400 billion in assets. Temasek had S$306 billion ($214.6 billion) as of March 31.