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Alibaba’s Ant Financial in talks to buy UK payment start-up WorldFirst


By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

December 28, 2018 | 2 min read

Ant Financial, the payment company part-owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is in advanced talks to purchase British currency exchange start-up WorldFirst.

Ant Financial logo

Alibaba's payment company is in advanced talks to purchase global payments company WorldFirst

The takeover deal is worth about $700m and is the result of several months of discussions between the two companies, according to reports by Sky News.

WorldFirst is a UK-based company that offers foreign exchange and currency-hedging services to businesses, banks and individuals globally. Founded by former Citi bankers Jonathan Quin and Nick Robinson in 2004, WorldFirst has offices in Asia, Africa, Europe and the US and employs about 600 people.

The purchase would provide Ant Financial with a broader suite of financial services to complement its Alipay, Ant Fortune, Zhina Credit and My Bank services.

The deal would also provide the Chinese company with a stronger global presence as it continues to roll out its Alipay online payment services internationally. Alipay currently has more than 700m active users in China; the service has launched in a host of markets across South East Asia, Europe and the US.

The deal comes nearly one year after Ant Financial’s $1.2 billion bid to purchase global payment service Moneygram was blocked by the US government.

Ant Financial was recently valued at $150bn and has ambitions to go public in the near future.

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