Alibaba’s revamp plans put renewed focus on Ant Group’s IPO

Alibaba restructuring has more to do with the company than the Chinese government, KraneShares says

Chinese technology stocks led gains in Asia-Pacific on Wednesday’s as Hong Kong listed shares of Alibaba jumped, one day after the company announced a major revamp to split the tech giant into six entities.

The Hang Seng Tech index gained nearly 3% in the afternoon, its highest in more than a month — as shares of Alibaba and its peers such as Meituan, JD.com and Tencent pushed up the index.

Analysts say Alibaba’s major overhaul will likely put the spotlight back on Ant Group’s record-breaking IPO, which was unexpectedly suspended in November 2020.

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Alibaba owns 33% of Ant, which operates AliPay, one of China’s two dominant mobile pay apps.

“I truly believe [Alibaba is] aiming for a bigger target,” said Kingston Securities Executive Director Dickie Wong. “In terms of the bigger picture, obviously would be Ant Group [being] re-introduced into the equity market,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.

“This is probably the biggest goal for Alibaba Group itself,” Wong said of Alibaba’s revamp plans, adding that the expected listing in Hong Kong will not happen anytime soon “but there’s big hope” for a sooner-than-later deal.

HANGZHOU, CHINA – OCTOBER 27: A logo of Ant Group is seen at the company’s headquarters on October 27, 2020 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.

Vcg | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Ant received approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission earlier this year to expand its consumer finance business, a sign the company could be moving one step closer to resolving regulators’ concerns.

To be clear, there was no mention of Ant in Alibaba’s announcement for its overhaul overnight.

KraneShares’ CIO Brendan Ahern said investors it’s likely investors will be focusing Ant’s IPO.

Now's probably not the best time to invest in Alibaba, says Kingston Securities

“The one part about the press release that I think the investors will be asking for is the lack of talk about Ant Group,” Ahern said.

“But certainty the renewed relationship or the good graces of Alibaba along with the government and its regulators is really driven by China’s necessity for domestic consumption in 2023,” he added.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng, Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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