The top 25: Kenny Man, Ant Financial

Kai Nin (Kenny) Man, head of international investment at Ant Financial, which runs the AliPay payments platform for former parent Alibaba’s e-commerce operation, is preparing for a busy year.

Ant Financial is looking to raise between $8bn and $9bn at a valuation of about $150bn and planning to go public as soon as this year through listings in China and internationally.

Ant Financial was formed by Alibaba in 2014 to oversee financial services products, such as online payment platform Alipay. Its subsidiaries also include asset management fund Yu’e Bao, mobile bank Mybank and Zhima Credit, the credit scoring system also known as Sesame Credit.

Alibaba agreed in February 2018 to acquire a 33% stake in Ant in return for surrendering ownership of certain intellectual properties, under terms originally agreed in 2014.

The company raised an undisclosed amount in 2015 from the state-owned National Council for Social Security Fund and China Development Bank as well as unnamed domestic insurance companies, which jointly took a 12.4% stake at a reported $40bn to $50bn valuation.

China Post Capital, the investment arm of postal services provider China Post Group, added an undisclosed amount the same year before returning for a $4.5bn round in 2016 that valued Ant at $60bn.

Insurance firms including China Life also took part in the 2016 round, as did China Development Bank Capital, sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp (CIC), private equity firm Primavera Capital Group and CCB Trust, a subsidiary of China Construction Bank.

In January 2016, Man joined the board of One97 Communications, the India-based parent company of Paytm, the subcontinent’s main online payments platform, just before the country demonetarised and effectively removed cash from the banking system. Demand for electronic cash has taken off in India and Ant’s investments in One97 the year before seems to have been timed well.

Since joining Ant in April 2015, Man has been involved in all the overseas acquisitions and investments, including the KT Consortium for the KBank licence deal, Paytm and Ascend Money in Thailand, while South Korea-based Kakao took in $200m from Ant to spin out its payments platform.

Ant has been an active investor in its homeland, too. Ant has maintained its corporate venturing activity, backing Neisha last month while Alibaba is acquiring all of delivery service, in which both it and Ant had invested in 2016.

Before his time at Ant, Man was a senior investment director at Vision Knight Capital, a private equity firm, where he had led the deal sold to Baidu for $1.9bn and the New York flotation of Earlier, he was a director in Alibaba’s investment and acquisition team working on the Vendio, Auctiva and Singlefeed deals in the US and Oncard Payments in China.

Alibaba had spun out Ant before its own flotation in 2014 and Man was “deeply involved” in the Alibaba initial public offering, according to his biography.

Before Alibaba, Man was the bottling operations planning manager at Pepsi China and had worked at consultancy McKinsey & Co in the corporate finance and strategy practice. He has an executive MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and a bachelor of commerce degree from Canada’s University of British Columbia.