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Exclusive: Saudi sovereign fund PIF weighs investing in Ant IPO - sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund PIF is weighing a potential investment in the initial public offering of Chinese financial technology firm Ant Group, which could be the world’s biggest IPO, two sources familiar with the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: An employee stands next to the logo of Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba's financial affiliate, at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Shu Zhang

Ant, Alibaba’s fintech arm and China’s dominant mobile payments firm, filed for a dual listing in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR Market last month.

The offering size could reach as much as $30 billion if market conditions allow, Reuters reported citing three sources.

That would make it the world's biggest IPO since oil giant Saudi Aramco 2222.SE raised $29.4 billion last December, which surpassed the record set by China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's BABA.N, 9988.HK.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) was approached by Ant through its advisors to consider investing in the deal, the sources said.

“They are looking at it,” said one of the sources.

If the investment goes ahead, it would be the Saudi fund’s most high profile direct investment in a Chinese company.

PIF declined to comment. Ant spokespersons did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment outside Asia business hours.

Ant’s initial public offering would be the first simultaneous listing in Hong Kong and the year-old STAR Market, boosting Hong Kong’s status as an international IPO market and helping enhance STAR as a capital markets centre.

PIF, which has over $300 billion in assets, has been largely pouring funds in the United States, but in June it agreed to invest $1.49 billion in Reliance Industries’ digital unit Jio Platform.

PIF’s head Yasir al-Rumayyan told CNBC last year the fund has its eye on China as it expands international investments.

Since becoming a more active investor in 2015, PIF has made some bold steps to raise its profile on the global stage.

It took a $3.5 billion stake in Uber Technologies UBER.N and invested $45 billion in Softbank's inaugural technology fund.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Additional reporting by Scott Murdoch and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Susan Fenton

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