By Julie Zhu, Kane Wu and Scott Murdoch
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs <GS.N> has joined the growing list of investment banks working on Chinese financial technology firm Ant Group’s mammoth initial public offering of up to $30 billion, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Ant, backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group <BABA.N> <9988.HK>, plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shanghai, in what sources have said could be the world’s largest IPO and come as soon as October.
Wall Street major Goldman Sachs has been hired as a joint lead manager on the Hong Kong leg of the IPO, said the people, who declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media on this subject.
A spokesman for Goldman Sachs, which also acted as a joint lead manager on Alibaba’s $12.9 billion secondary listing in Hong Kong last year, declined to comment.
Ant also declined to comment.
The IPO of Ant, already the world’s most valuable unicorn – or billion-dollar unlisted tech firm – would be the first simultaneous listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai’s year-old STAR Market.
The Hong Kong leg of the IPO is being sponsored by China International Capital Corp (CICC) <3908.HK>, Citigroup <C.N>, JPMorgan <JPM.N>, and Morgan Stanley <MS.N>. Credit Suisse <CSGN.S> is working as a joint global co-ordinator.
The top-ranked banks in a Hong Kong IPO are known as sponsors and carry legal liability for the accuracy of the prospectus. Under them are joint global coordinators, and on the bottom rung are joint lead managers.
Ant’s STAR Market listing is being led by CICC and China Securities Co <6066.HK>.
China’s largest brokerage, CITIC Securities <600030.SS> <6030.HK>, is set to get a joint underwriter’s role on the mainland tranche, four people with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
Ant’s mega IPO size means a large syndicate of investment banks, especially those with strong retail investor networks, is expected to work on the deal as it progresses towards a possible launch in October.
If Ant completes the offering at the around the $30 billion upper end of expectations, it would rival oil giant Saudi Aramco <2222.SE>, which raised $29.4 billion last December, surpassing the record set by Alibaba’s $25 billion float in 2014.
Ant’s biggest and best-known business is Alipay, the largest player in China’s 430 trillion yuan ($62 trillion) third-party mobile payments market, according to market researcher Qianzhan.
(Reporting by Julie Zhu, Kane Wu and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and William Mallard)