Ant Financial posts RM5.5b in profit

HONG KONG • Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Group) generated about 9.2 billion yuan (RM5.52 billion) of profit in the March quarter, offering investors a glimpse of its earnings power in the run-up to its mega IPO.

That’s an increase of about 560% compared to the same time last year. The company contributed three billion yuan in earnings for its backer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which owns 33% of Ant, according to the e-commerce platform’s first fiscal quarter earnings. Based on its equity share, that would roughly translate to 9.2 billion in profit for Ant. A representative for Ant declined to comment.

Ant is planning to conduct a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai in what could be the world’s largest IPO in years. The sale may value company at about US$210 billion (RM882 billion), based on Bernstein estimates, more than Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley combined.

The company — a sprawling financial technology platform that operates mobile payments, consumer credit business and money market funds — is expanding beyond finance to become a gateway for everything from flight tickets to food delivery. It’s peddling its cloud computing and risk control technology to other financial and retail companies as well.

Like Alibaba, Ant has hit the brakes on its US expansion as tensions between America and China escalated. Ma said in 2018 that his promise to create one million jobs in the US was impossible to fulfil because of trade tensions.

Instead, Ant has focused it offshore ambitions on building its presence in the rest of Asia, where it’s working with nine payment start-ups including the owners of Paytm in India and GCash in the Philippines. — Bloomberg