(Reuters) - China’s Ant Group Co Ltd has invested far and wide overseas, both to expand its own Alipay payments service and in local e-wallet companies.
But ahead of its $34.4 billion (26.4 billion pounds) dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Ant has been scaling back support for its overseas partners in a strategy rethink.
Following is a selection of its overseas investments, most of which are in Asia.
Some of the reporting is drawn from interviews with more than a dozen executives who work or worked with Ant in nine countries as well as with company sources. All declined to be identified due to confidentiality agreements.
Ant did not comment on specific investments.
Ant first invested in Indian payments group Paytm in 2015 and now holds a 30% stake in Paytm parent firm One97 Communications, according to Ant’s prospectus, which described the Indian firm as a major associate.
Ant invested an undisclosed amount in Thai conglomerate True’s financial fintech firm Ascend Money in 2016, which operates the e-wallet TrueMoney. Sources say Ant’s stake is around 25-30% and that while Ascend Money has a regional presence, Ant is only involved its Thai operations.
TrueMoney declined to comment.
Kakao Pay (Korea) :
Ant invested $200 million in Kakao Pay, the mobile payment subsidiary of South Korea tech giant Kakao Corp, in February 2017.
That same month, Ant purchased a “substantial” minority stake in e-wallet GCash, operated by fintech firm Mynt, a unit of domestic telecommunications provider Globe Telecom. Sources say Ant took an active role in shaping the e-wallet, dispatching a significant number of staff to the firm until 2020.
Mynt said in a statement that GCash has been cooperating closely with Ant and its committed support had helped it reinforce its position as market leader in the Philippines.
In April 2017, Ant formed a venture with Indonesian media company Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) to launch e-wallet DANA. Sources say Ant is in final talks to merge DANA with local rival OVO, which is backed by ride-hailing firm Grab, and that Ant will hold a 20-25% stake in the merged entity.
Ant is also an investor in Indonesian e-commerce site Bukalapak, whose majority investor is Emtek.
OVO and Grab declined to comment, while DANA did not respond to a request for comment.
TNG Digital (Malaysia):
In 2018, micropayments firm Touch’n’Go, which is partly owned by Malaysian bank CIMB, teamed up with Ant to create e-wallet TNG Digital. Details of the deal were not disclosed.
Ant invested in Pakistan’s EasyPaisa, an e-wallet operated by Norwegian telecoms group Telenor in 2018, taking a 45% stake for $185 million.
Ant acquired a 20% stake in bKash, Bangladesh’s largest mobile payments firm, also in 2018. It launched a blockchain remittance service with bKash and Standard Chartered in September 2020.
Ant has also built up a 25% stake in India’s Zomato, a restaurant aggregator and food delivery service, beginning in 2018. Ant said in its prospectus it is re-evaluating a planned further investment of $150 million in Zomato announced in January 2020, due a change in India’s foreign investment rules.
Ant led a $100 million round in Indonesian online lending firm Akulaku in January 2019.
In February 2019, Ant announced it had purchased British currency exchange and payments group WorldFirst. According to its prospectus, it paid some $650 million and in 2019 WorldFirst’s losses exceeded its revenues.
According to sources, Ant took a sizeable stake in Vietnamese e-wallet eMonkey in 2019, which is operated by Vietnamese fintech firm M-Pay Trade.
M-Pay did not respond to a request for comment.
Wave Money (Myanmar):
Ant announced in May 2020 it was investing $73.5 million in Myanmar e-wallet Wave Money.
Reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
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