FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times
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FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

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Ant Group is set to raise more than $34bn after setting the price of shares in its initial public offering, putting the Chinese payments group on track to top Saudi Aramco as the biggest-ever market listing.

The financial technology company, controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma, will sell shares in a dual listing across Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is expected to make its market debut on November 5.

Ant said it would sell shares for the Shanghai portion, which will trade on the technology-focused Star market, at Rmb68.80 ($10.26) each, according to documents published by the city’s stock exchange on Monday evening. Ant also said it had set the price for its Hong Kong shares at HK$80 (US$10.32).

Together the sale of the roughly 3.34bn shares, which account for 11 per cent of Ant’s total outstanding stock, will fetch $34.4bn — topping the $29.4bn raised in 2019 by oil major Saudi Aramco. The Shanghai segment of the Ant sale alone will bring in Rmb114.9bn ($17.2bn), more than double the Rmb53bn raised by chipmaker SMIC in July.

Financial regulators are watching Ant Group’s success closely. (FT, NYT)

Coronavirus digest

How has your life changed because of the pandemic? FT commenters discuss how they think the virus has been handled and share how they have been affected. Follow our live coverage.

In the news

China’s Communist party plenum China leadership began discussing the country’s next Five-Year Plan, with Beijing expected to focus on boosting technological self-sufficiency and domestic demand. President Xi Jinping’s carbon neutrality plan, which has sparked a rally in “clean energy” shares, was also on the docket. (FT, Al Jazeera)

Thai protesters march on German embassy Several thousand Thais marched on the German embassy in Bangkok on Monday to press Berlin to start an investigation into King Maha Vajiralongkorn on the grounds that he had conducted state affairs from German soil. (FT)

Pro-democracy demonstrators marched to the Germany embassy in central Bangkok, requesting that Berlin ‘conduct an investigation and disclose King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s entry and departure records’ © Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

US Senate to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court Amy Coney Barrett is set to be confirmed by the US Senate, giving President Donald Trump his third Supreme Court justice just a week before election day. Separately, our editorial board writes that, with the character of US democracy on the ballot, the choice between Donald Trump and Joe Biden “should not be hard”. (FT)

ByteDance discusses listing video app Douyin The owner of TikTok is in early talks to list its Chinese short-video app Douyin in Hong Kong, according to those familiar with the situation. Meanwhile, the US government objected to TikTok’s request to halt the administration’s ban to take effect November 12. (Reuters, SCMP)

PM: Japan to be carbon neutral by 2050 Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s new prime minister, has vowed the country will become carbon neutral by 2050 in a move that will require a big shift in energy policy in his first policy speech to a new session of the Diet. (FT)

Renewable energy makes up only 11% of Japan’s energy mix © Bloomberg

Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire unravels US-brokered ceasefire in the disputed region appeared to have broken down on Monday as Armenian and Azeri forces accused each other of artillery strikes within minutes of the truce coming into effect. (FT)

Shares in Samsung companies jump Shares in groups tied to South Korean conglomerate Samsung jumped a day after the death of chairman Lee Kun-hee, as investors bet they would boost dividends to help his family members pay high inheritance taxes. (FT)

Private jets take off Soaring numbers of wealthy flyers are switching to private jets to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus from commercial flight passengers. How To Spend It takes a closer look at these first-time private flyers. (FT, HTSI)

The cabin layout — which features sleeping accommodation — can be customised © Dassault Aviation

The day ahead

Earnings round-up The earnings season is in full swing with tech giants likely to grab the attention of investors for most of the week starting with Microsoft on Tuesday. Also of note: HSBC, Spanish lender Santander, Italy’s Mediobanca, pharmaceutical company Novartis and oil major BP report on Tuesday as well. (FT)

Join the FT on November 11-13 for live online debate, interactive networking sessions as more than 150 leading minds in policy, business and finance share thoughts on where the world goes next. Speakers include US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, and Carmen Reinhart, vice-president and chief economist at the World Bank Group. Click here for your free registration.

What else we’re reading

Jeff Bezos vs Mukesh Ambani America and India’s richest men are squaring up over retailer Future Group, drawing battle lines between Amazon and Reliance Industries over India’s booming ecommerce market, which is projected to be worth $86bn by 2024. (FT)

All of the president’s debts Virtually all of Donald Trump’s $1.1bn in debt is backed by real estate, a sector badly hit during the pandemic, Robert Armstrong and Joe Rennison found in a deep dive of the president’s finances. About $900m will come due in possible second term. (FT)

African debt to China is ‘a major drain’ As Zambia heads for Africa’s first sovereign default in a decade and pressure mounts on other debt-burdened countries during the pandemic, the crisis has revealed the fragmented nature of Chinese lending and Beijing’s reluctance to fully align with global debt relief plans. (FT)

China’s Covid triumphalism could be premature As China’s leadership meets this week to plan for the years ahead, its ability to openly debate the nation’s problems is hampered by the thought-stifling cult-of-personality that has built up around President Xi Jinping, writes Gideon Rachman. (FT)

© James Ferguson

Lessons for Covid-era markets Value investing is suffering its worst run in at least two centuries after the pandemic compounded a decade of struggles for a popular strategy that consists of buying cheap stocks in often unfashionable industries. Mohamed El-Erian breaks down what the shift on austerity means for markets. (FT)

The import of one Florida county Mr Trump argues that he can revive the low unemployment of pre-Covid times, while Mr Biden will destroy the recovery. In Florida, where the battle over the economy has been particularly raw, Pinellas county holds outsized importance. Meanwhile, Mr Biden has outraised Mr Trump in some of the wealthiest areas of the US. (FT, NYT)

UAE vs Turkey Over 10 months, a conflict between Turkey and the UAE has become the Middle East’s most toxic feud, reverberating from the oil-rich Gulf to the Horn of Africa to the front lines of Libya’s civil war, and pitting one of the US’s closest Arab partners against a Nato member. (FT)

Chill out about the Moon Last week, Nasa hyped up a soon-to-be released announcement about the Moon. Turns out, they had found evidence of water there. Here is why it is a significant, but not earth-shattering, discovery — and why that is perfectly fine. (Atlantic)

Meet our journalists: Edward Luce

Edward Luce is the US national editor and columnist at the Financial Times. He co-writes Swamp Notes, a biweekly newsletter on money and power in Trump’s America with Rana Foroohar (sign up here). Ed was formerly the Washington and South Asia bureau chief and is the author of three books, including The Retreat of Western Liberalism.

What’s an interesting fact we should know about you? Early into my career a the FT, I left to work for a year as a speech writer to the then-US treasury secretary, Larry Summers. It was a strange and somewhat daunting job for a foreigner suddenly to turn up and do — but immensely edifying. It helped me greatly as a journalist to taste life on the other side of the tracks.

Tell us about your newsletter, Swamp Notes: It’s chatty, lightly-edited and Rana and I come at the world from either ends of the Acela corridor (linking Washington to New York). Most of all, we have complementary interests and enjoyable chemistry (nurtured regularly during Covid with Zoom cocktails). It’s fun to do and hopefully, that shows.

What apiece of advice you have received that you still think about? Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems (a saying all journalists should take to heart).

What was your strangest interview? With Imelda Marcos, the Philippines’ former co-dictator, over lunch in a restaurant in Manila, in which she discussed her world-beating collection of shoes.

Thank you for reading. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com

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