There’s no shortage of superlatives for Ant Group’s initial public offering. Here’s a look at some of the key metrics, and why billionaire Jack Ma seems to be such a fan of the number eight.
Ant’s US$34.5 billion IPO blows past the previous record, set last year by Saudi Aramco at $29-billion. Ant’s money raise will likely jump another $5.2-billion once bankers sell additional shares to meet demand in what’s known as the greenshoe option.
Ant’s IPO puts the company’s valuation at dizzying heights. At about $315-billion, Ant is worth more than the GDPs of Egypt, Chile or Finland. For corporate comparisons, it’s bigger than JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest US bank. Ant is larger than payment rival Paypal Holdings, media giant Walt Disney and dwarfs Bank of America. It’s three times bigger than tech giant IBM and four times larger than Goldman Sachs Group.
Ma appears to be a big fan of the number eight, which is often associated with wealth in China. Eight is pronounced “ba” and rhymes with the word for “prosperity” or “getting rich” in Mandarin. As a result, couples often try to get married in August, the eight month, while eight is a popular number for street addresses and apartment floors. The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics opening ceremonies began at 8pm on 8 August.
Ant is knee-deep in eight. The stock ticker in Shanghai will be 688688; in Hong Kong it’s 6688. Six is also considered a lucky number in China. The shares were priced in Shanghai at 68.8 yuan and at HK$80 in Hong Kong. Ma’s Alibaba Group, which owns about a third of Ant, trades under the ticker 9988 in Hong Kong.
The eight focus seems to be working for Ma. Alibaba has soared since its Hong Kong listing last year, up 69%, trouncing the Hang Seng index, which is down 8% over that period.
76 billion shares
Ant’s IPO was expected to attract investors from all over the world and that’s borne out in the demand for shares. Institutional investors put in orders for 76 billion shares, more than 284 times the initial offering, according to the Shanghai filing. Brokers were willing to lend individual investors credit worth 20 times their investment so they could load up on the shares. Ant is planning to stop taking investor orders for the Hong Kong leg a day earlier than scheduled as the share sale has already been heavily subscribed, according to people familiar with the matter.
Ma, the former English teacher who co-founded Alibaba with $60 000, is poised to become the world’s eleventh richest person after the Ant IPO.
Ma’s 8.8% stake is worth $27.4-billion based on the stock pricing in Hong Kong and Shanghai. That will lift the 56-year-old’s fortune to $71.6-billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, exceeding that of Oracle’s Larry Ellison, L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and individual members of the Waltons, whose family own Walmart. — Reported by David Scanlan, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP