(Reuters) - Ant Financial Services Group, the finance arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said on Monday it is looking to raise funds from investors ahead of a planned initial public offering, the second time in less than six months the company taps investors to finance its growth.
The funding round, which Bloomberg reported could reach at least $1.5 billion, comes just months after Ant Financial's first major private placement completed in July. State media had pegged the previous round at up to $4 billion, when the company was valued at about $45 billion.
"We can confirm Ant Financial Services Group has launched Round B financing, however we are not commenting on market speculations," said spokeswoman Miranda Shek, declining to discuss the funding size.
"In terms of the IPO, we do not have a timeline for Ant Financial's IPO."
Ant Financial is among a series of financial technology companies tapping investors for pre-IPO financing to fund expansion as Chinese consumers move more of their banking, payments and investing online.
Online lending platform Lufax, backed by China's second largest insurer Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd, has also sought funds from investors ahead of a planned IPO in Hong Kong worth up to $5 billion in 2016.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch in Shanghai and Elzio Barreto in Hong Kong, editing by Louise Heavens)