Chinese technology giant Ant Group has set the price for its initial public offering at an eye-watering $34.4bn (£26.5bn) on the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges, making it the world’s largest stock market debut.
Ant Group — which is backed by Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of e-commerce dynamo Alibaba — set the share price on Monday amid strong market anticipation.
The previous largest debut was Saudi Aramco's $29.4bn float from last December.
The share sale will make Ma among the world's richest elites, with Bloomberg estimating that the 56-year-old's fortune will soon hit $71.1bn, positioning him as the 11th wealthiest person in the world.
Ant is only selling roughly 11% of its shares, making the overall value of the business priced at about $313bn.
Ant owns Alipay, the dominant online payment system in China. Cash, cheques and credit cards have historically been replaced by e-payment devices and apps in the country.
According to Alibaba’s most recent annual report, Alipay has 1.3 billion users, most of whom are in China. The remainder come from its nine e-wallet partners elsewhere in Asia.
Alipay said the total volume of payments on its platforms in China for the year ending in June was a massive $17.6tn.
Those that stand to profit the most from the listing own their stakes through two limited partnerships registered in Hangzhou. Together, they hold about 40% of Ant, according to Bloomberg.
Alibaba holds a third of the fintech firm. Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, the family behind a French supermarket giant, the son of a Taiwanese real estate billionaire and Chinese retail tycoon Shen Guojun are among the other high profile stakeholders who have invested in the company over the year.
The Trump administration has tried to undermine Chinese firms’ access to US capital markets, ramping up long-standing tensions between Washington and Beijing. As result, China has encouraged its national firms to list on domestic stock markets.
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