Why Ant Financial Wants Big Data

Alibaba's Ant Financial Wirecard investment

Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings’ Ant Financial affiliate took a 20 percent stake in financial data provider Shanghai Suntime Information Technology, Reuters reported last week. The stake was amassed for a purchase price of $35 million, according to the newswire.

An unnamed source with direct knowledge of the transaction told Reuters on Friday (June 10): “The acquisition will provide Ant Financial with good financial products so that it can attract more clients.”

The deal also comes after Ant Financial closed $4.5 billion in funding in April, with a valuation that now tops around $60 billion, showing what backers are willing to ascribe in terms of worth for services that range from wealth management to insurance to the marquee Alipay online payment business.

As has been widely reported, the $35 million spent represents a 20 percent stake in the analytics firm, which, as Bloomberg noted, means that Ant Financial becomes the second-largest holder of the firm, after Chairman Liao Bing.

The financial firm, said Bloomberg, is in the midst of moving to embrace the Chinese hedge fund industry and its need for data, as both grow in leaps and bounds. Shanghai Suntime, which was founded 13 years ago, lays claim to one of the largest databases devoted to tracking hedge funds in the country and, as the newswire noted, offers up both wealth management services and profit forecasts tied to listed companies.