Alibaba eyeing US$15bn Hong Kong listing

The US-listed Chinese e-commerce giant is due to seek approval from Hong Kong’s listing committee on Thursday two people with direct knowledge of the matter said. — AFP  File

The US-listed Chinese e-commerce giant is due to seek approval from Hong Kong's listing committee on Thursday, the people said, for a deal that Dealogic data showed will be the world's biggest-ever cross-border secondary listing.

If realised, the US$15 billion IPO would be the biggest since insurance giant AIA garnered US$20.5 billion in 2010.

Alibaba's share sale, which could be the largest globally this year, will be a triumph for a Hong Kong stock exchange that lost many of China's brightest technology stars to USA rivals.

The listing process and bookbuild would then proceed during the week of November 25, 2019, said the sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The Hang Seng Index is up 10% so far this year.

Hong Kong's stock exchange, which reported its worst slide in profit in nearly three years, could face pressure from local protesters pushing back on influence from mainland China. The company has been listed in NY since 2014.

A second listing in Hong Kong would also curry favour with Beijing, which has sought to encourage its current and future big tech firms to list nearer to home after the loss of companies such as Alibaba and Baidu to Wall Street.

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The listing could yet be delayed, however, if the protests worsen once more.

Alibaba will have an opportunity to show prospective investors its most recent sales figures after Monday's Singles Day, mainland China's largest annual online shopping day.

The deal is now being led by China International Capital Corp Ltd and Credit Suisse.

Alibaba - which had roughly US$57 billion of cash and equivalents as of September - rode a national e-commerce boom that stemmed from an increasingly affluent middle class.

The company will appoint more banks next week to help sell its shares in Hong Kong, sources said. Major investment banks led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are now jockeying for the most senior positions behind those two.

The company reported a sales increase to 119 billion yuan ($16.9 billion) during the third quarter, up 40% on a year earlier, despite the fact that China is experiencing an economic slowdown.

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