As Alibaba Group Holding Ltd BABA and its group companies face pressures on multiple fronts on their home turf of China, they have started looking elsewhere for growth.

What Happened: Alibaba’s affiliate company Ant Group has set up a digital bank called ANEXT Bank in Singapore, and it will be organized as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ant Group.

ANEXT, which received approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore last week to commence business, intends to focus on providing digital financial services to local and regional micro, small and medium enterprises.

“We are well-positioned to live up to this vision, leveraging Ant Group’s deep bench of technologies and know-how, along with our customer-obsessed local team dedicated to serving the SME community,” CEO Toh Su Mei said in a statement.

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Why It’s Important:  The ANEXT Bank opens up an opportunity for the Jack Ma-owned fintech company in the Southeast Asian financial hub. On the flip side, it would be pitted against heavyweights such as DBS Group Holdings Ltd (DBSDY) and Overseas Chinese Banking Corp.

Given Ant is partly owned by Alibaba, it could leverage the e-commerce company’s Lazada local unit, Bloomberg said.

Ant had to shelve a high-profile initial public offering in China in late 2020 amid regulatory scrutiny. The fintech company faced further backlash as Chinese regulators demanded that it organizes itself as a bank holding company, which requires it to comply with stricter disclosures and adhere to stringent capital norms.

Price Action: Alibaba’s NYSE stock closed Friday’s session at $93.21, down 4.40%, according to  Benzinga Pro data.

 

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