Daily Management Review

Ant Financial acquires British payment operator


After an unsuccessful attempt to enter the US market in 2017, the financial division of Alibaba Group focused its efforts on finding a partner in the European market. And eventually it succeeded: the company announced an agreement on the purchase of the British payment service WorldFirst.

JD Lasica
JD Lasica
In a letter to customers, WorldFirst CEO Jonathan Quin said that his company had reached an agreement on the sale of its business to the financial division of Alibaba Group, Ant Financial. Mr. Quin said that this deal would create growth opportunities for WorldFirst and “over time, the company will be able to provide services and products of even higher quality, extracting maximum benefits, being part of a larger company.” Compared to Ant Financial, the British payment service is quite small. According to the Financial Times, this purchase will cost the Chinese company only $ 700 million, while Ant Financial itself is estimated at $ 150 billion.

This is the biggest deal for the Chinese giant in Europe, and it is no less important for it than for WorldFirst.

Alibaba Group tried to enter the western markets two years ago. Then the company negotiated with the American MoneyGram, but the US authorities spoke out sharply against this deal, believing that it could pose a threat to the national security of the country. In the end, the transaction was blocked by the Securities and Exchange Commission. After that, Ant Financial focused on finding a European partner. Rumors about negotiations with WorldFirst appeared in December. At the same time last month, the British service closed its unit in the United States so that in order to complete the transaction with the Chinese partner it was not necessary to obtain permission from the US authorities. Taking into account the experience with MoneyGram, the parties obviously did not want to risk it.

Thanks to this deal, Ant Financial will finally get full-fledged access to Western markets.

Founded in 2004, WorldFirst specializes in currency exchange and currency risk hedging services for companies and individuals. It allows making cross-border payments to Europe, as well as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

source: reuters.com