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Alibaba's new 33% stake turns spotlight on possible Ant listing

But IPO remains suspect as Alipay operator shuns short-term profit focus

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has acquired 33% of Ant Financial, the operator of Alipay.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Alibaba Group Holding has purchased one-third of Ant Financial, the operator of leading Chinese online payment system Alipay, but it remains uncertain whether the restructuring clears a path for Ant's long-awaited stock listing.

Alibaba receives the 33% stake in return for ending a profit-sharing agreement that required Ant Financial to hand over 37.5% of its pretax profit to the Chinese e-commerce kingpin.

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