JACK MA'S Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group has offered around $2.5 billion (€1.9 billion) to take its Hong Kong-listed Alibaba.comunit private, stressing the move was unrelated to any possible deal to buy back shares owned by Yahoo.
Alibaba Group is offering investors HK$13.50 (€1.31) in cash per share to take Alibaba.comprivate, the same price as at the company's IPO in 2007, the two firms said in a statement.The plan to take Alibaba.comprivate had nothing to do with separate complex talks with Yahoo on buying back part of the US internet pioneer's 40 per cent stake in Alibaba, the Chinese firm said.
"Taking Alibaba.comprivate will allow our company to make long-term decisions that are in the best interest of our customers and that are also free from the pressures that come from having a publicly listed company," said Mr Ma, who is chairman of Alibaba Group and board chair of Alibaba.com.
The offer is at a more than 60 per cent premium to Alibaba.com's 60-day average closing price. The shares were suspended earlier this month at HK$9.25 – a 12-week closing high, but down 30 per cent from last July. The stock will resume trading today.
The offer is for the 27 per cent of Alibaba.comthat Alibaba does not already own. The shares are held by investors including Morgan Stanley, Vanguard Group and Capital International, according to Thomson Reuters data.
“If you’re an existing shareholder, that’s great news. It’s a 46 per cent increase from the last close,” said Jin Yoon, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Nomura.
“The business was going through some significant changes and getting to that type of premium would have taken some significant amount of time. So if you’re a shareholder you weren’t going to see that kind of upside in the near term.”
The moves leaves Mr Ma still to tackle the issue of how to deal with the Yahoo stake, bought in 2005 by handing its China Yahoo operations to Alibaba, plus about $1 billion.
Mr Ma has been trying to buy back part of the stake, but talks on a complex asset swap have stalled, sources said, over how to value Taobao, Alibaba’s fast-growing online retail business. – (Reuters)