China tech giants choose US for 'world's biggest IPO'

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has said it will float in the US to raise up to $15bn, while China's twitter-like service Weibo is expecting a $500m listing in New York.

HONG KONG - 18. März 2014.

The world's biggest online retailer Alibaba abandoned plans for an offering in Hong Kong, after talks with regulators failed.

It is unknown whether it will choose the New York Stock Exchange or its tech-centric competitor, Nasdaq.

Alibaba had insisted on maintaining its management structure, which allows executives to retain board control: a setup at odds with Hong Kong's rules for listing there.

Hong Kong Stock Exchange forbids different classes of shares, where US market rules meant Facebook and Google founders kept control of their companies businesses after floating. It could still list shares in China later on.

Hong Kong hasn’t seen an initial share sale of over $4 billion since 2010.

The move could be the biggest share offering by a tech firm since Facebook floated two years ago, with the potential to push the Alibaba Group's value to $200bn.

Alibaba hopes its US offering will make it "a more global company and enhance the company's transparency".

Such valuations could make Alibaba the world’s second most valuable online company after Google, valued at $394bn. Amazon and Facebook are valued at around $172bn.

The star in China's growing e-commerce industry was founded by former English teacher and tour guide, Jack Ma, in 1999. The company now employs more than 20,000 people, and he is estimated by the Bloomberg Billionaires' Index to be worth nearly $11.5bn.

China company records show over $150bn of merchandise is sold from Alibaba's nine main websites annually, more than Amazon and eBay combined.

Yahoo's 24 per cent stake in Alibaba - which has more than 500 million customers and over 800 million product listings - stands to soar on the IPO.

The California-based web portal bought a $1bn stake in Alibaba after it launched as a platform for Chinese firms to showcase their wares to the West.

News of the float comes just 48 hours after Chinese internet company Sina’s Weibo microblog unit announced its plans for an expected half-billion dollar US listing, according to a China company search.

This followed the Chinese e-tailer's filing in January for a US stock listing.

China ranks second only to India in terms of the number of web users it can claim, at 618m.

Analysts expect the country's internet retail market to treble in volume to 2015, reaching to $395bn.


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