Ant Financial’s highly-anticipated IPO has been delayed once again, with one source saying the public offering could be “years” away.
Just a few months ago, it was reported that Alibaba’s investment arm had secured $10 billion in funding from global and local investors, and declared a valuation of $150 billion — more than double its valuation after its last funding round in April 2016, and catapulting it past Uber’s $69 billion valuation to become the world’s largest unicorn.
That $150 billion valuation would have made Ant’s IPO one of the biggest ever, putting it ahead of Facebook’s $104 billion IPO in 2012 and behind Alibaba’s $168 billion IPO in 2014.
But now two sources with knowledge of the company’s decision said that an IPO was unlikely to take place before the end of 2019, while one person said a listing was “years” away.
The company reported a loss in the first three months of the year and is set to report second-quarter results later this week.
The Financial Times reported that the cash the company is spending to compete with rival Tencent — as well as pressure from China’s tougher stance on non-traditional financial institutions — played a role in the delay.
“There are so many challenges to the business model of Ant and other non-banks,” said one analyst. “I am not surprised that they once more are postponing their IPO.”
Sources said the decision to delay Ant’s listing was made several months ago. The company pointed out that it never had a set timetable for an IPO, and it downplayed the role regulation has played on its business.
“A regulated and orderly market is good for players like us and we view compliance as a prerequisite to doing business,” said a spokesperson. “We have proactively engaged the regulators and they have been supportive of our efforts to promote financial inclusion.”