Ant Financial, China’s most valuable online finance company, is in discussions to raise $3bn in debt to fuel its global expansion plans and fund an acquisition spree.

The fundraising highlights the expansion drive by Ant Financial, which gained about 100m clients last year, taking its total above 500m.

Its mobile platform Alipay processes about 250m transactions a day and supports more than 2m Chinese retail businesses.

The company, which confirmed its efforts, emphasised that this is not an equity fundraising round, and as a China-based company, “it is the market practice for a globalised company like Ant Financial to raise debt in USD.”

The talks come as rumours of an IPO are rife. Doug Feagin, the company’s new head international operations, told the FT in December: “We see the benefits of being a public company at the right time, in that . . . it gives us a public currency to do strategic transactions. It’s something we see the merits of,” he said. “But we have no specific plans for timing or venue. The expansion of our business is one we see continuing regardless of IPO.”

Last month, Ant Financial purchased Texas-based MoneyGram for about $880m in cash, giving it a global platform on which to expand. It recently signed deals with four European financial groups including BNP Paribas in France, Barclays in the UK, UniCredit in Italy and SIX Group in Switzerland.

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