(Bloomberg) -- Jack Ma’s Ant Group is seeking to raise at least $35 billion in its initial public offering after assessing early investor interest, people familiar with the matter said, putting the Chinese fintech giant on track for a record debut sale.Ant lifted its IPO target based on an increased valuation of about $250 billion, up from previous estimates of $225 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. It was earlier expecting to raise at least $30 billion, people familiar have said.Ant’s simultaneous listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai may mark the biggest IPO ever, topping Saudi Aramco’s record $29 billion sale. Ant could exceed Bank of America Corp.’s market capitalization, and be more than twice the size of Citigroup Inc. Among U.S. banks, only JPMorgan Chase & Co. is bigger at $300 billion.Ant received a nod from regulators in Shanghai on Friday to proceed with its public share sale. In the wake of its IPO plans, the company’s been hit by a flurry of new regulations aimed at reducing risks in China’s online finance sector. Regulators have curbed small-loan funding sources, capped lending rates, and imposed new capital and license requirements on Ant and other conglomerates.The Hangzhou-based company is seeking a hearing with the Hong Kong stock exchange Thursday to clear the next key hurdle, the people said. Ant declined to comment in an emailed statement.Ant has picked China International Capital Corp., Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley for its Hong Kong sale.Ant generated 72.5 billion yuan in revenue in the first-half, after full-year sales of 120.6 billion yuan in 2019, it said. The firm posted a 21.1 billion yuan profit in the first-half of this year.Ant, which grew out of the Alipay payments app, now gets the bulk of its revenue from providing quick consumer loans, fueling China’s growing consumer spending. It also runs an insurance business and money market funds, on top of providing credit scoring and technological services for the finance industry.Alipay has 711 million active users, mostly in China, who tap it to buy everything from a quick coffee to even property, generating $17 trillion in payments in the 12 months through June.For those who don’t have ready cash to spend via Alipay, Ant operates services that dole out small unsecured loans: Huabei (Just Spend) and Jiebei (Just Lend). The former focuses on quick consumer loans for purchases of iPhones and fridges, while the latter finances anything from travel to education.Ant uses some of its capital for these loans, but the bulk of the money comes from banks, with the firm acting as a gateway. The platforms made loans to about 500 million people in the 12 months through June, charging annualized rates on its smaller loans of about 15%.(Adds Ant’s revenue, profit in 7th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
CEO Brian Moynihan said he believes the issue of deferrals is largely behind the bank at this point.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Whether your company is pushing employees to return to the office, a la JPMorgan, or letting them stay home, a la Google, Deutsche Bank and pretty much everyone else, the question remains: What the heck to do with the kids?The U.S. remains a confusing patchwork of partially open, partially closed schools. Children learning via screen need supervision to help them stay focused. So far, that’s mostly meant parents. In the spring, 60% of working parents functioned with no outside child care, according to a BCG survey, spending an extra 27 hours each week taking care of the children, helping them with school and doing other household tasks. Half admitted it had hurt their work performance.This has left companies scrambling to figure out how to get the work done — and prevent employees from burning out.It’s terra incognita for a lot of organizations. Many companies tend to think of children, when they think of them at all, as a kind of private hobby. Studies on working parents have confirmed again and again that bosses more readily give time off to employees for non-child reasons — like a bucket-list vacation or training for a marathon — than they do to those who ask for the same amount of time to raise children.Change is long overdue. Pre-pandemic, offering family-friendly benefits was fairly rare — rare enough to prompt the Society for Human Resource Management to note, in its rather dry way, that “benefits in this area may represent an opportunity for employers as they are often among those that generate the most enthusiasm from employees, and many can be provided at low cost.”One in four companies allow parents to bring kids to work in a child-care emergency, according to SHRM, but only 11% offer a child-care referral service, and just 4% offer a child-care program. Non-family benefits are much more common: 56% of firms offer tuition assistance, 39% acupuncture coverage and 15% pet health insurance. Yep, pet health insurance.The pandemic has started to alter that calculus. Companies are starting to realize that they can’t leave working parents twisting in the wind, trying to figure this out individually with their supervisors — the problem is too big. “It is a business issue,” says Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture. This isn’t something you can fix by being the world’s most flexible boss, or most diligent employee.So employers are starting to offer more tangible help, especially those in the finance, consulting and tech industries. This is no surprise — these sectors have more cash than most and compete ruthlessly on talent. “In February, unemployment was record-low,” says Shook. “We were truly in a war for talent. I believe we will be back there again. And actions companies take today will be long remembered.” With that in mind, talent-focused firms are rethinking how to support working parents.JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America have all boosted child-care benefits. For example, JPMorgan is offering employees discounts on tutoring, learning pods and full-time child care, and increasing employee access to emergency backup child care. Citigroup will help employees find other families to join their learning pod, and Bank of America is offering to reimburse parents to the tune of $75 or $100 a day to pay for child care, depending on their salaries.Accenture is leading an effort with Bright Horizons to get kids ages 6 to 12 into some semblance of school — a subsidized day-care program for groups of 10 to 12 students, who would follow their own public school’s remote learning lessons under adult supervision. Bank of America and Microsoft are among the other firms that have signed on. Shook explains that they’re offering the program through a cost-sharing mechanism in which the company will pay 75%, so that the cost to the employee is roughly $5 an hour.Dell Technologies, too, is offering a menu of new options for parents, says Kristi Hummel, senior vice president of human resources. The company is expanding employee access to nanny placement services; to tutoring, whether virtual, one-on-one or group-based; and to a service that helps parents find off-site child care. They’ve also granted access to a marketplace parents can use to find a nearby learning pod of the right age group for their child.A cynic might say — especially given JPMorgan’s well-publicized attempts to get employees back to the office — that this is all just a way to get parents to work harder. But the parents I’ve talked with would dearly love to do just that. They adore their children, of course, but they want to stop being Zoom-enabled teachers’ aides and go back to their day jobs.And some observers will no doubt find it strange that private firms are engaged in helping employees make child-care arrangements. Perhaps it seemed strange when corporations started to offer access to health insurance, too.Not everything to come out of this horrible pandemic is itself horrible, and if more companies start supporting their working parents, that could be a real silver lining. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Sarah Green Carmichael is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. She was previously managing editor of ideas and commentary at Barron’s, and an executive editor at Harvard Business Review, where she hosted the HBR Ideacast. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.