Alibaba to Seek U.S. listing after HK Talk Break Down
E-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has decided to pursue an initial public offering (IPO) in New York after talks with Hong Kong regulators broke down over a listing in the Asian financial hub,sources familiar with the discussions said yesterday.
The decision ends weeks of negotiations between the company, the Hong Kong stock exchange and the city’s regulators over Alibaba’s shareholding structure, which had delayed the launch of a sale that may be worth more than US$15 billion.
The debate centered on the ability for Alibaba to list in Hong Kong and, at the same time, allow its “partners” – a group of founders and senior employees – to keep control over the makeup of its board.
The choice of New York should make it easy for Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his management team to keep a tight grip on the company with a dual share structure that’s common to Internet companies including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.
“We’ve come to the end of dialogue with Hong Kong and we’re pivoting to the United States to start the listing process,” a company source familiar with the discussions said.
Alibaba has engaged U.S. law firms to start working on its IPO and will soon be hiring banks to manage the listing, added the company source, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Officials at Alibaba and the Hong Kong stock exchange declined to comment.
The IPO would ride a wave of bullish views on the firm after its revenue soared 71 percent in the first quarter to US$1.4 billion, with profits nearly tripling to US$669 million, according to figures released in July by Yahoo Inc., one of its hey shareholders.