China’s Alibaba to file for biggest IPO since Facebook

Investment banks have valued Alibaba at as much as $200 billion

Employees  at Alibaba.com’s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Photograph: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Employees at Alibaba.com’s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Photograph: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 01:01

Alibaba Group Holding, China’s biggest e-commerce company, will begin the process of filing for an initial public offering in the US that may be the biggest since Facebook.

The announcement comes after Alibaba struggled to persuade Hong Kong regulators to approve a proposed governance structure that would allow its partners to nominate a majority of its board of directors.

A listing in China may be considered “should circumstances permit in the future,” the Hangzhou- based company said in a statement.

Investment banks have valued Alibaba, founded by former English teacher Jack Ma, at as much as $200 billion (€143 billion), which would make it the second-biggest internet company behind Google.

A US share sale by Alibaba would be a blow to Hong Kong, which hasn’t hosted an IPO of more than $4 billion since October 2010.

Alibaba hasn’t decided when to file for the listing, how much it plans to raise, how large a stake it may sell or which exchange in the US it would seek to list on, according to the person familiar with the matter.

The prospectus for an IPO may be disclosed next month, people familiar with the matter have said. An Alibaba IPO could raise about HK$100 billion (€9.3 billion), Ernst and Young said.

That would make it the world’s biggest first-time share offering since Facebook raised $16 billion in May 2012, and Hong Kong’s largest since 2010. –(Bloomberg)