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      Alibaba (BABA US) - Tiny Ant’s big move

      作者: Leo LIU,Matt MA,Calvin NG
      時間: 2019年10月04日
      重要性: 一般報告
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      摘要: Report title:Alibaba (BABA US) - Tiny Ant’s big move
      Analyst:Leo LIU,Matt MA,Calvin NG
      Report type:Company

      ■ Alibaba has received 33% of equity interest in Ant Financial (Ant)
      ■ Ant’s equity transfer benefits its future listing, cash requirement, international brand establishment, and relationship with Alibaba
      ■ Maintain BUY for Alibaba with TP at US$218

      What happened? On Sept 23, Alibaba has received a newly issued 33% equity interest in Ant Financial (Ant) following the 2014 share and asset purchase agreement. The agreement stated that Ant Financial had to pay 37.5% of its pre-tax profits to Alibaba yearly in exchange for Alibaba’s intellectual property and software technology services. Moreover, Alibaba was also granted the right to acquire 33% of Ant’s equity interests when certain conditions are met, and the profit sharing from Ant to Alibaba would then be terminated. Before the equity transfer, Hangzhou Junhan Equity Investment Partnership and Hangzhou Junao Equity Investment Partnership were the two largest shareholders of Ant, holding 42.28% and 34.15% of interests respectively. The two partnerships both have the same general partner called Hangzhou Yunbo Investment Consultancy, solely controlled by Jack Ma. As a result, this delicate shareholding structure gives Jack Ma the full controlling power over Ant with 76.43% of its controlling interests.

      Our view: We believe Ant’s equity transfer mainly served four purposes: 1) The termination of Ant’s profit sharing to Alibaba can better align Ant shareholders’ equity interests with their deserved profits, which paves the way for Ant’s future listing; 2) Ant’s pre-tax profit declined 85% YoY from RMB 9,184mn in FY18 to RMB 1,379mn in FY19, due to its stepped up investments in new user acquisition, offline payment market penetration, and international expansions. Going forward, Ant expects to continue invest in capturing the strategic opportunities amid China’s real economy’s digital transformation. Therefore the termination of profit sharing can help reserve more cash for its strategic development; 3) Alibaba’s direct equity holding in Ant will help global investors to better understand the relationship between the two parties, which will in turn allow Ant to leverage Alibaba’s global influence in establishing its own international brand image; and 4) Before the transfer, Jack Ma is the only linkage between Alibaba and Ant for unified management. However, Jack Ma’s recent stepped down as Chairman of Alibaba could weaken this unification. After the transfer, Alibaba’s direct equity holding with a few Alibaba managements placed on Ant’s board can help rebuild this bond. This tightening bond could make the two companies collaborate closely to realize the idea of building the electronic World Trade Platform proposed by Jack Ma.

      Maintain BUY with TP at US$218
      Given Alibaba has previously announced the potential Ant’s equity transfer in Feb 2018, the impact of transfer has already been factored into the market price of Alibaba. As a result, the finalizing equity transfer should have very limited impact on Alibaba’s valuation. However, after ironing out the potential obstacles on its way to IPO, Ant’s listing schedule could be brought forward, which could eventually benefit Alibaba being its largest shareholder. We maintain BUY for Alibaba, with TP at US$218. Our TP implies 31x FY20E P/E, vs. its current valuation at 24x FY20E P/E.

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