Singapore’s GIC Plans to Invest More Than $1 Billion in Ant IPO

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

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Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund
GIC Pte
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 Holdings Pte
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
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 Holding Ltd. 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 Corp.
and twice the size of
Citigroup Inc.

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.

— With assistance by Dingmin Zhang