Ant Financial raises record $4.5b

The record round of private funding values the Alibaba-backed company at almost $60 billion and sets a benchmark ahead of its highly anticipated but yet to be announced IPO.

Ant Financial, the online payments affiliate of Alibaba, said on Tuesday that it had raised a record $4.5 billion from private investors, valuing the company at almost $60 billion and moving it a step closer to launching a hotly anticipated initial public offering. 

Proceeds from what it said is the largest-ever private fundraising by an Internet company globally will be used to extend Ant Financial's reach into rural Chinese areas and to expand Chinese e-commercial giant Alibaba’s footprint in the thriving mobile e-commerce market of Southeast Asia.

While other so-called unicorns -- private technology startups worth $1 billion or more -- globally...

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