Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group (Ant Financial), the online financial affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, announced Tuesday it had secured funding worth a whopping $4.5 billion in what is the world’s largest single private equity funding round for any internet business to date, even as billion dollar funding rounds are not entirely uncommon any more.
The current round of funding is estimated to value the company, which has over 450 million active users, at about $60 billion, up from its estimated valuation of $45 billion during its previous round of funding last year.
Existing shareholders such as China Post Group, private-equity firm Primavera Capital Group and China Development Bank Capital contributed to the series B funding. New investors included sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp.’s CIC Capital and a subsidiary of state-owned China Construction Bank Corp.
In a statement, Ant Financial said: “This new round of funding will support Ant Financial in its goal to expand access to financial services in China’s rural areas, while also fuelling the company’s globalization.”
Ant Financial, previously known as Alipay, was split off from Alibaba prior to the latter’s record listing on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014. A Wall Street Journal report said the company is considering its own initial public offerings in both domestic and offshore stock exchanges, even though it hasn’t specified a timeline for doing so.
Ant Financial operates China’s biggest online payments platform, Alipay, and also controls China’s largest online money-market fund Yu’e Bao, as well as an online bank, MYBank, launched in 2015. According to Bloomberg, the micro-lending business of Ant Financial handled about 30 billion yuan ($4.62 billion) in loans in January this year.
While focused mainly on China, the company has expanded overseas as well, most notably investing in Indian mobile payments app, Paytm, which claims to have over 120 million users.
Before this round of funding for Ant Financial, the previous largest private equity funding was for another Chinese company, Meituan-Dianping, an online seller of movie tickets and restaurant bookings, which raised $3.3 billion in January.