Ant Financial Services Group, the Alibaba Group affiliate formerly known as Alipay, announced the acquisition of major money remittance company Money Gram for $880 million. While already the online payments leader in China, this acquisition would greatly increase Ant’s international and U.S. presence, with the acquisition expected to close in the second half of the year.
Before their 2014 IPO, Alibaba spun Ant Financial Services Group off as a private company that would continue to operate the Alipay service. It has been estimated that more than half of online payments in China go through Alipay. In 2016, Ant held a private funding round that raised $4.5 billion, resulting in a company valuation comparable to American Express. Ant has plans to go public as well, but will likely now wait until after the MoneyGram merger is complete.