xi's moments
Home | Companies

Alibaba launches mega share sale with $12b retail tag

By Luo Weiteng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-11-15 16:28

People walk past an Alibaba Group sign in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, on May 10, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd priced the retail portion of its Hong Kong share sale Friday, issuing an appeal to retail investors in Hong Kong.

The largest Chinese e-commerce company capped the 12.5 million shares available to individual investors at HK$188 apiece, an auspicious number in Chinese culture.

Minimum investment for each retail investor is HK$18,989 for a board lot of 100 shares, according to a prospectus filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Friday.

Alibaba said it may price the remainder of its 500 million-share offering above that ceiling. Its secondary listing could raise between $12 billion to $13.4 billion in what would be one of the world's largest sale of stocks this year. The company will price the rest of its international offering by Nov 20.

Asia's largest corporation is proceeding with what could be Hong Kong's biggest share sale since 2010. Slated for late November, it will be the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut's official Asian coming-out party - half a decade after snubbing the financial hub for a record Wall Street debut. If the deal goes through, Alibaba will challenge Tencent Holdings Ltd for the title of the largest Hong Kong-listed corporation.

"The listing in Hong Kong will allow more of the company's users and stakeholders in the Alibaba digital economy across Asia to invest and participate in Alibaba's growth," the company said.

"Over the last few years, there have been many encouraging reforms in Hong Kong's capital market. During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright," Daniel Zhang, CEO and chairman of Alibaba said in a letter to investors released on Friday.

"When Alibaba Group went public in 2014, we missed out on Hong Kong with regret. Hong Kong is one of the world's most important financial centers," said Zhang.

Hong Kong lost out to New York in 2014 when Alibaba opted for a mega $25-billion IPO on the Wall Street in what remains the largest IPO in history, due to the SAR's years-long ban on enterprises with different voting rights for shareholders from going public.

The ban was scrapped in April last year after the Hong Kong Stock Exchange launched its biggest listing reform in 25 years, a move that paved the way for companies like Alibaba to go public in Hong Kong.

Listing closer to home has been a long-time dream of billionaire Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma's. A successful Hong Kong share sale could help finance a costly war of subsidies with Meituan Dianping in food delivery and travel, and divert investor cash from rivals like Meituan and WeChat operator Tencent. It will also be a feather in the cap for Zhang, who took over as chairman from Ma in September. The former accountant is now spearheading the company's expansion beyond Asia but also into adjacent markets from cloud computing to entertainment, logistics and physical retail.

A marquee name like Alibaba's could draw investors and boost trading liquidity for Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, which just incurred its biggest profit slump in more than three years. For Hong Kong, it's a slice of welcome news following half a year of often violent protests that have at times paralyzed the city and its service industry. Efforts to court Alibaba emanated from the very top, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam herself exhorting Ma to consider a listing in the city.

Alibaba has considered a Hong Kong listing for a long time, Michael Yao, head of corporate finance at Alibaba, said on a call with investors this week. The deal size hasn't changed as a result of the protests, he added.

On Friday, the benchmark Hang Seng Index edged up 0.32 percent, or 85.32 points, to close its morning session at 26,409.01 points. Alibaba closed its US trading on Friday morning flat at $182.80.

Bloomberg contributed to this story.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349