Ant Financial is building a roughly $1 billion investment fund to back start-ups across south-east Asia and India, as Alibaba’s financial technology arm looks to expand its reach across the region, reported the Financial Times.
Plans for the fund, which were first reported on by Deal Street Asia, are at an early stage. Ji Gang, Ant Financial’s vice-president, told a conference for young entrepreneurs in Beijing on Tuesday the company wants to focus on providing start-ups with later-stage funding.
Both Alibaba and its rival Tencent, the dominant Chinese internet groups, have invested in hundreds of tech start-ups at home and overseas as they battle to create wider ecosystems. Tencent now claims to have stakes in more than 700 companies, while Alibaba has close to 350.
“Alibaba has always looked to use investment in its ecosystem to increase traffic and create synergies with its investees, so this is probably what Ant is doing as well,” said Shawn Yang, managing director at Blue Lotus Capital Advisors.