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February 14, 2019

Ant Financial swoops on money transfer firm WorldFirst

Ant Financial, the Chinese firm owned by billionaire Jack Ma, has acquired UK-based money transfer firm WorldFirst.

Financial terms of the WorldFirst purchase were not revealed, though earlier the two parties were said to be in talks for a $700m takeover.

An affiliate of Alibaba, Ant Financial is the operator of mobile payment platform Alipay.

In the middle of last year, Ant Financial was said to be valued at $150bn.

WorldFirst CEO Jonathan Quin said in a memo that the offerings of Alipay and WorldFirst are “highly complementary”.

According to the memo, WorldFirst will now be a wholly-owned unit of Ant Financial and will continue to be based in the UK.

However, WorldFirst is said to retain its operational independence.

The WorldFirst purchase comes close on the heels of WorldFirst’s closure of its US business.

The closure was seen as an initiative to save the Ant Financial deal from regulatory objections.

Last year, MoneyGram’s sale to Ant Financial was blocked by the US Committee on Foreign Investment owing to national security concerns.

At the same time, Ant Financial had to pay MoneyGram a termination fee of $30m.

WorldFirst, set up in 2004 by Jonathan Quin and Nick Robinson, currently has a workforce of around 600.

 

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