According to the British “Financial Times” report, Ant financial, Alibaba’s financial services arm, is in talks to buy WorldFirst, the UK cross-border payments company, for about $700m.
Ant financial has been eyeing WorldFirst for some time, Ant financial has been in talks with WorldFirst for months and the two sides are expected to strike a deal in the coming weeks, the report said.
The talks with Ant Financial were first reported by Sky News. Ant Financial and WorldFirst declined to comment.
By then, the deal is expected to be the biggest attempt by Chinese technology companies to enter the booming financial technology sector in the UK. Analysts said ant financial’s acquisition of WorldFirst highlighted China’s growing financial strength in areas such as payment infrastructure in the global economy.
According to insiders, the two sides have not yet reached an agreement on the deal and there is still the possibility that it could be cancelled.
According to sources from the bank, the UK Financial Conduct Authority has been notified of the proposed transaction between Ant Financial and WorldFirst. It is unclear whether ant financial will buy WorldFirst outright or retain shares in existing investors such as venture Capital firm FTV Capital.
As one of the world’s first providers of cross-border payment solutions, WorldFirst currently has offices in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the Netherlands and other countries and regions.
WorldFirst has been in existence for nearly 15 years, and the UK-based company offers exchange and currency hedging services to businesses, banks, asset management companies and individuals around the world.Since its establishment, the company has been exchange more than £ 60 billion bn for 160,000 customers.
2010, WorldFirst began to enter the Chinese market, providing Chinese e-commerce sellers with international collection services in USD, EUR, GBP, JPY and CAD. In addition, WorldFirst is also the first foreign-invested payment institution in China to apply for a license.
Since entering the Chinese market, WorldFirst has also reaped good results. Since entering the Chinese market in 2008, WorldFirst has assisted more than 50,000 Chinese exporters to collect money from around the world; it has recovered more than $4.5 billion for China in just 2017 years, or $12 million a day.
In recent years, ant financial has been accelerating its overseas distribution through investment and equity investment or business cooperation. In 2015, ant financial took stakes in Indian third-party payment platform Paytm twice，In 2016, ant financial made strategic investment in payment enterprises AscendMoney in Thailand; In December, k-bank, South Korea’s first Internet bank in which it took a stake, also received a government license.
In January 2018, Ant Gold’s deal to buy US remittance company MoneyGram $18 a share (1.2 billion of dollars in total) was terminated because the deal failed to obtain approval from the U.S. Foreign Investment Commission (CFIUS), which paid 30 million of dollars (about 200 million yuan) for the ” Breakup fee. “
After its failed attempt to enter the us market, ant financial is targeting the UK market again. A successful acquisition of WorldFirst by ant financial would mean a smooth entry of ant financial into the UK and further progress of its “internationalization”.
Industry insiders also said the deal would bring WorldFirst’s valuation to “£ hundreds of millions of bn.”