Jack Ma's Ant close to buying MoneyGram

A logo of Alibaba Group is pictured at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Photo: Reuters
Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, is close to sealing a deal to buy U.S. money-transfer service MoneyGram International Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The newspaper didn’t disclose a price for the deal. Shares of Dallas-based MoneyGram closed Wednesday at $11.88, giving the company a market value of $630 million.

A deal would give China’s largest provider of online financial services a significant foothold in the U.S. as it begins to explore markets beyond a home arena it already dominates. 

MoneyGram helps consumers and businesses move money around the world through hundreds of thousands of physical outlets. It’s partnered with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the U.S. 

retailer’s money-transfer agent, and also lets clients pay for everything from their mortgages to utility bills.

Ant Financial, whose Alipay handles the majority of transactions on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s online shopping sites, last year appointed a new chief executive officer to steer its next 

phase of growth and possibly oversee a public market debut in 2017.

Formally known as Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., the Chinese company has begun making investments abroad, notably in India and Southeast Asia, to 

take its model of online finance and local services to emerging markets. Last year, executives of Ant Financial visited Silicon Valley to size up potential investments and lay the 

groundwork for an IPO.

Ant started out as a unit of Alibaba before Ma spun it out in 2010, inviting objections from shareholders including Yahoo! Inc.

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