Chinese tat bazaar e-commerce and cloud giant Alibaba Group has finally announced plans to IPO, but in something of a surprise it will take place in the US rather than Hong Kong.
The firm, which runs China’s hugely popular Taobao and T-Mall e-commerce platforms, could be valued as high as $200 billion and may even raise more than the $16bn Facebook pulled in the day it hit the stock market..
A brief statement from the company offered the following:
Alibaba Group has decided to commence the process of an initial public offering in the United States. This will make us a more global company and enhance the company’s transparency, as well as allow the company to continue to pursue our long-term vision and ideals. Should circumstances permit in the future, we will be constructive toward extending our public status in the China capital market in order to share our growth with the people of China.
Considering this IPO could make Alibaba the second biggest web business in the world behind Google, at least in terms of market capitalisation, it’s something of a blow to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
It had been in discussions with the Hangzhou-headquartered firm for months but couldn’t agree to Alibaba’s demands that it continue nominating most of the board after going public, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The exchange’s CEO Charles Li is now apparently calling for reforms to ensure that Hong Kong doesn’t lose out in the future.
Alibaba had this to say to the SAR:
We wish to thank those in Hong Kong who have supported Alibaba Group. We respect the viewpoints and policies of Hong Kong and will continue to pay close attention to and support the process of innovation and development of Hong Kong.
The IPO will be good news for both Yahoo and Softbank.
Although Alibaba bought back 20 per cent of Yahoo’s shares in it back in 2012, the US internet pioneer still has a stake of over 20 per cent in the company.
Japanese operator Softbank, meanwhile, owns north of a third.
Alibaba’s global coming-out party is another sign the growing presence of major Chinese tech companies on the world stage.
Just last week, microblogging giant Sina filed for a $500m US IPO.
Shenzhen-headquartered Tencent – which stepped up its rivalry with Alibaba recently by taking a stake in China’s number two e-com player, JD.com – is listed in Hong Kong with a market value of around $140bn.
Apart from B2B and B2C e-commerce platforms, Alibaba runs online payment service Alipay, WeChat rival Laiwang and financial platform Yu'e Bao.
It has also been ramping up investment in cloud services and operates the controversial AMOS mobile OS. ®