Ant Financial looks to buy stake in Thai payments company

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Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, is seeking to buy a 20 percent stake in Ascend Money, an online payment provider based in Thailand, according to a notice on the website of China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Alipay (Hong Kong) Holding Limited, part of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Ant Financial Services Group, is also seeking an option to increase its stake in Ascend to 30 percent at a later date.

No further details on the dollar value of the deal, the approval process or a timeframe were given.

Ascend’s subsidiaries include True Money, an online payment service provider, and Ascend Nano, a licensed financial services provider.

Ant Financial, whose Alipay payment platform dominates the online payments industry in China, is looking to expand its presence overseas even as competition from Tencent’s rival Wechat payment system heats up.

The company also continues to expand its reach domestically, buying 20 percent of financial data provider Shanghai Suntime Information Technology for around $35 million, Reuters reported last week.

Ant Financial Services Group, valued at close to $60 billion, offers services like online payment, wealth management products and insurance. Its core Alipay online payment business was founded in 2004. The Alibaba affiliate closed a $4.5 billion funding round in April.

(Reporting by Elias Glenn; Editing by Kim Coghill)