A number of global investors including Warburg Pincus and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are opting out of Ant Group Co.’s proposed share buyback after the Chinese fintech’s valuation was slashed by more than 70%, according to people familiar with the matter.
(Bloomberg) — A number of global investors including Warburg Pincus and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are opting out of Ant Group Co.’s proposed share buyback after the Chinese fintech’s valuation was slashed by more than 70%, according to people familiar with the matter.
Carlyle Group Inc. and GIC Pte are also among top foreign shareholders that aren’t participating in the buyback, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. A few money managers, including Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price Group Inc., have agreed to sell their shares, one of the people said.
Pension funds and private equity firms that took part in early funding rounds for Ant in 2018 face sizeable financial losses from the buyback after the company’s value plunged following its scrapped initial public offering in 2020. Asset managers are required to mark private assets to market prices to reflect fair value, though any loss would be on paper and could be reversed if Ant recovers.
Jack Ma-backed Ant last month proposed to buy back as much as 7.6% of its shares, giving investors a chance to pare back exposure to the company that’s been ensnared by a years-long regulatory crackdown. The repurchase valuation of about 567.1 billion yuan ($79 billion) is a massive decline from an estimated $280 billion market capitalization ahead of the planned IPO.
Representatives for Ant, Warburg, Carlyle, Canada Pension, GIC, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price declined to comment.
Global funds have grappled with how to assess their Ant investments, many made five years ago when the company was valued at about $150 billion. Other overseas backers included Silver Lake Management LLC, Khazanah Nasional Bhd. of Malaysia and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte.
Boston-based Fidelity cut its estimated valuation for Ant to about $63.8 billion in November.
Some Chinese state-owned shareholders are planning to join the buyback, as they invested during the first two funding rounds when Ant raised at a reported valuation of about $45 billion and $60 billion respectively.
Ant’s early A-round of fundraising in 2015 included China’s national social security fund and China Development Bank Capital Co. China Investment Corp. and CCB International Holdings Ltd. were among backers for its B-round the following year.
Chinese regulators are wrapping up a more than two-year crackdown on the country’s once-freewheeling technology giants after slapping more than $1 billion of fines on Ant and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in July. Ant is also preparing to break off its international business, blockchain and database management services, people familiar have said.
E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has decided not to sell any of its one-third stake in Ant, while Temasek has said it’s seeking a better understanding of how Ant arrived at its repurchase valuation.
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