China funds targeting Ant IPO rake in $9 billion from over 10 million investors

FILE PHOTO: Alipay logo is pictured at the Shanghai office of Alipay, owned by Ant Group which is an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in Shanghai

(This Oct. 9 story corrects paragraph 8 to say Trump administration officials, not Trump, are considering the move)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Five newly launched Chinese funds targeting Ant Group’s upcoming mega stock listing raised 60 billion yuan ($8.93 billion) cumulatively from more than 10 million retail investors, selling out within days, the funds’ distributor said.

An average of eight investors placed orders each second during the subscription period, highlighting retail frenzy over Ant’s initial public offering (IPO) despite possible U.S. sanctions against the Chinese fintech giant.

The rush also underscores the marketing clout of Ant’s online payment platform Alipay, the sole third-party distributor of the five mutual funds that threatens to disrupt traditional fund sales models.

Ant <IPO-ANTG.HK>, Alibaba Group’s <BABA.N> fintech arm, aims to raise about $35 billion in a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai’s STAR Market, expected in October, in what could become the world’s largest IPO.

The five funds launched on September 25 to raise 12 billion yuan each and invest up to 10% of their assets to buy Ant’s IPO shares as strategic investors.

Two of the funds, launched by E Fund Management Co and Penghua Fund Management Co, hit their fundraising target even before the week-long Chinese National Day holiday that began on October 1.

As business resumes on Friday, Alipay announced that the other three funds, managed by China Asset Management Co (ChinaAMC), China Universal Asset Management and Zhong Ou Asset Management Co, were also sold out.

The market has so far brushed aside worries that Ant’s IPO could suffer from any U.S. restrictions, after a Bloomberg News report saying Trump administration officials are considering curbs on Ant and Tencent <0700.HK> over concerns their payment platforms threaten national security.

The successful fund sales could give a boost to Ant’s rapidly growing wealth management business. Revenue from this business segment jumped 56% during the first half of 2020, and Ant’s fintech platform has facilitated investments worth over 4 trillion yuan.

($1 = 6.7218 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)