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How Ant grew into an elephant-sized behemoth

Alibaba affiliate balances push beyond financial services and regulatory tests

Ant Group Chairman Eric Jing speaks at the fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, in 2018.   © Reuters

It was a long wait for investors before Ant Group, the Chinese fintech giant affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding, announced its plan last month to go public, kicking off one of the world's most anticipated share sales.

With a valuation of roughly $200 billion, Ant, the parent of payment provider Alipay, is the world's most valuable tech startup. Its planned dual listing in Hong Kong and on Shanghai's high-tech STAR Market could be the biggest initial public offering in the world this year. The debut is expected to give a powerful boost to both markets at a time when the global outlook is clouded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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