Chinese billionaire Jack Ma ’s Ant Group set the price for the Hong Kong leg of its initial public offering at HK$80 a share (US$10.32), putting it on track to raise roughly US$17 billion in the offshore tranche of its share sale, according to people familiar with the matter. The world’s most valuable unicorn is likely to make its hotly anticipated debut on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-styled Star Market and Hong Kong’s stock exchange on November 5, after the US election on November 3. Its stock code will be 6688. Co-hosting such a jumbo IPO with Shanghai helps Hong Kong keep pace with the swift development of financial hubs in mainland China. Beijing is steadily opening its domestic financial markets to foreign investors and nurturing neighbouring Shenzhen as a technology and financial hub. Hangzhou-headquartered Ant’s coming out parade also illustrates China’s lead in digital finance. The number of monthly active users of Ant’s mobile payment app Alipay hit 731 million on September 30, dwarfing Palo Alto-based PayPal, the world’s largest payments platform outside China. Ant’s payments network is just the gateway, funnelling small businesses and consumers into a broad financial ecosystem spanning lending, investment products and insurance. The system is oiled by a trove of data gathered in China, the world’s most populous country, making pricing more accurate and efficient. The coronavirus pandemic has turbocharged usage as people have turned to digital payments and e-commerce as a way of maintaining social distance. Ant’s IPO values it at US$313 billion, rising to US$318.50 billion when an over allotment option is included. The core group of analysts at banks orchestrating the share sale have pegged Ant’s near-term valuation in a range from US$350 billion to US$450 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. The greenshoe, or overallotment option, for H shares will be not more than 15 per cent. Investment banking boutique Ampere Partners is Ant’s financial adviser. CICC, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the sponsors and among the book runners of Ant’s Hong Kong share sale. Ant and its advisers will now start building a book in the shares, collecting pledges and allocating stock to some of the world’s largest money managers as well as mom and pop investors in Hong Kong. Ant is initially offering 41,768,000 H shares for subscription by the public in Hong Kong, about 2.5 per cent of the available H share. If the Hong Kong public offer is oversubscribed 20 times or more, then the Hong Kong retail offering will rise to 10 per cent.