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Alibaba’s Ant Financial raises $14 bn in world’s largest-ever single fundraising

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Beijing/shanghai :Ant Financial Services Group, operator of China’s biggest online payment platform, on Friday said it raised around $14 billion in what market watchers called the biggest-ever single fundraising globally by a private company.
The cash will boost Ant’s firepower ahead of a widely expected initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong and mainland China as early as next year – though the company has neither publicly set a timetable nor chosen a likely stock exchange.
The exercise amounted to the largest confirmed single fundraising round in history, according to data provider Crunchbase.
Ant Financial, spun off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd before the e-commerce firm’s 2014 listing, has played a major role in shaping China’s financial technology landscape. It oversees the largest mobile payment app in what is increasingly becoming a cash-less society.
In a statement, Ant said the funding included both U.S. dollar and Chinese yuan tranches. The dollar share made up over $10 billion, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Ant listed Singaporean sovereign wealth fund (SWF) GIC Pte Ltd and state investor Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd as well as U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC as participants in the dollar tranche.
Other global investors included Malaysian SWF Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and U.S. private equity firms Silver Lake and General Atlantic, it said.
Ant did not release details of its valuation following the funding round. Reuters reported earlier that Ant was likely to be valued at around $150 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable financial firms.
“It’s the most uniquely positioned TechFin company in the world,” said Ben Zhou, a managing director of Warburg Pincus, who led the firm’s investment in Ant.
Participants in the yuan tranche were mainly existing shareholders, Ant said. Among them was China-focused private equity firm Boyu Capital, which invested in both the yuan and dollar tranches, said two of the people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified as details were private.
Ant declined to comment on specific investors beyond those disclosed in its statement. Boyu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ant, in its statement, said it would use the funds to speed up globalisation plans for its Alipay payment platform and to invest in developing financial technology.
Figures seen by Reuters showed that in five years, Ant expects 65 percent of revenue to come from business-oriented financial technology including assisting banks and other institutions, as well as providing fraud prevention services.
The emphasis on business comes as Ant shifts focus away from consumer finance in China amid increased regulatory scrutiny of financial risk.
Nevertheless, it aims to reach 2 billion consumers globally with its payments network in coming years, backed by investments and strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian payment firms as well as tie-ups in South Korea, Japan and India.
“Now, with the help of our partners, we are going to accelerate our strategy,” said Ant Chief Executive Eric Jing.
Aside from payments, Ant also offers consumer finance products including credit services, wealth management products and micro-loans.
Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, China International Capital Corp, CITIC Securities, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisors to Ant.


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Indian billionaires’ wealth rose by Rs 2,200 crore a day in 2018: report

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New Delhi: Indian billionaires saw their fortunes swell by Rs 2,200 crore a day last year, with the top 1 per cent of the country’s richest getting richer by 39 per cent as against just 3 per cent increase in wealth for the bottom-half of the population, an Oxfam study said .Globally, billionaires’ fortunes rose by 12 per cent or USD 2.5 billion a day in 2018, whereas the poorest half of the world’s population saw their wealth decline by 11 per cent, the international rights group said in its annual study released before the start of the five-day World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in this Swiss ski resort town.

Oxfam further said that 13.6 crore Indians, who make up the poorest 10 per cent of the country, continued to remain in debt since 2004.

Asking the political and business leaders who have gathered in Davos for the annual gathering of the rich and powerful of the world to take urgent steps to tackle the growing rich-poor divide, Oxfam said this increasing inequality is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging economies and fuelling public anger across the globe.

 

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, one of the key participants at the WEF summit, said it is “morally outrageous” that a few wealthy individuals are amassing a growing share of India’s wealth, while the poor are struggling to eat their next meal or pay for their child’s medicines.

“If this obscene inequality between the top 1 per cent and the rest of India continues then it will lead to a complete collapse of the social and democratic structure of this country,” she added.

Noting that wealth is becoming even more concentrated, Oxfam said 26 people now own the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, down from 44 people last year.

The world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to USD 112 billion and just 1 per cent of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 115 million people.

“India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds 77.4 per cent of the total national wealth. The contrast is even sharper for the top 1 per cent that holds 51.53 per cent of the national wealth. The bottom 60 per cent, the majority of the population, own merely 4.8 per cent of the national wealth. Wealth of top 9 billionaires is equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent of the population,” Oxfam said while noting that high level of wealth disparity subverts democracy.

Between 2018 and 2022, India is estimated to produce 70 new dollar millionaires every day, Oxfam said.

“It (the survey) reveals how governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, on the one hand, while under taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax dodging on the other,” Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said.
The survey also shows that women and girls are hardest hit by rising economic inequality, he added.

“The size of one’s bank account should not dictate how many years your children spend in school, or how long you live — yet this is the reality in too many countries across the globe. While corporations and the super-rich enjoy low tax bills, millions of girls are denied a decent education and women are dying for lack of maternity care,” Byanyima said.

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Fugitive Choksi surrenders Indian passport in Antigua to ‘avoid extradition’

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Chandigarh:Fugitive tycoon Mehul Choksi has given up his Indian citizenship and surrendered his passport to Antigua, as per media reports.

This move by Choksi’s is being seen as an attempt to avoid his extradition to India. Antigua and India do not have an extradition treaty.

India had earlier handed over a request to Antigua for extradition of Mehul Choksi who is charged in connection with India’s biggest banking fraud, and now living in the Caribbean nation after taking its citizenship.

 

Official sources said a team comprising officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and other agencies was sent to Antigua a couple of days ago to request the Antiguan authorities to extradite Choksi, wanted in India in the US$ 2 billion Punjab National bank scam.

As per reports, Antiguan authorities cleared Choksi’s citizenship in November 2017 after India did not give any adverse report to stall his application for it.

Choksi had fled India on January 4 this year and took oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15. His citizenship was cleared in November 2017.

Choksi’s application for citizenship in Antigua in May 2017 was accompanied with clearance from the local police as required by norms, Antiguan newspaper the Daily Observer reported, citing a statement from the Citizenship by Investment Unit of Antigua and Barbuda (CIU).

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FPI outflow crosses Rs 4,000 crore in Jan so far

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New Delhi: Foreign investors have pulled out more than Rs 4,000 crore from the Indian capital markets so far in January, highlighting their cautious stance towards the country.

This comes following a collective net inflow of over Rs 17,000 crore in the capital markets both equity and debt by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) during November and December.

Prior to that, they had pulled out a massive Rs 38,905 crore in October.

 

According to data available with the depositories, FPIs withdrew a net amount of Rs 3,987 crore from equities and a net sum of Rs 53 crore from the debt market, taking the total outflow to Rs 4,040 crore during January 1-18.

Market experts believe that FPIs are continuing with their ‘wait and watch’ approach towards India.

Going ahead, the focus would be on the budget, progress on the economic growth front and general elections, they added.

Other factors such as movement in crude prices and currency as well as US-China trade relations will also play a role in FPI flows, they added.

Harsh Jain, COO at Groww, an online MF investment platform, said 2019 is likely to see a lot of volatility because of the rate hikes and dollar instability, but the Indian markets may be able to weather the storm.

“India offers better investment opportunities due to consistent growth, supportive global factors and attract valuations. We should expect positive inflow in coming months,” he added.

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