Alibaba to resume Hong Kong listing plans as soon as November, say sources

Alibaba Group has opened their first office in South-east Asia at UOA Corporate, Bangsar South City, Kuala Lumpur June 18, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Alibaba Group has opened their first office in South-east Asia at UOA Corporate, Bangsar South City, Kuala Lumpur June 18, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara

HONG KONG, Oct 31 — Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is eyeing a listing in Hong Kong as early as November to raise up to US$15 billion (RM62.7 billion), after political unrest put the move on ice earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said yesterday.

Alibaba's listing would boost Hong Kong's status as a major capital markets hub. After topping global rankings in 2018 for funds raised through IPOs, the city's bourse fell behind the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq this year as a string of pro-democracy demonstrations led to clashes with authorities.

Alibaba plans to seek listing approval from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd shortly after the Chinese e-commerce giant's online retail frenzy Singles Day on November 11, and may list its shares towards the end of November or in early December, the sources said.

The company expects to be in a position to forego so-called pre-marketing meetings where it meets with institutional investors before a deal launch given its size and that many investors are already familiar with the company, the sources added. It is hoping to raise between US$10 billion and US$15 billion through the listing, Reuters has reported.

The sources cautioned that the plans are still subject to market conditions and requested anonymity as the matter is private.

A spokeswoman for Alibaba, which is already listed in New York, declined to comment. The company had been preparing to launch the listing in late August, but delayed it because of the political unrest.

Such a large offering from Alibaba could also have implications on liquidity in Hong Kong's financial system and the closely watched Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate (Hibor), given that investors in the Hong Kong market often borrow funds in anticipation of large share sales.

A rise in Hibor can in turn lift the Hong Kong dollar , which is pegged to the US dollar at a tight range of 7.75 to 7.85. To defend the peg, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the city's de-facto central bank, buys local dollars if it gets too weak and sells to curb excessive strength.

Alibaba follows in the footsteps of brewer AB InBev , which also chose to defy the political turmoil with a listing. In September, it raised about US$5 billion by listing its Asia-Pacific unit in Hong Kong. It was the bourse's biggest and the world's second-largest IPO so far this year.

Homecoming

Alibaba holds the record for the world's largest initial public offering with its US$25 billion float in New York in 2014.

At that time, the company had initially hoped to float in Hong Kong, but the company's dual-class share structure clashed with the city's listing rules. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing changed its listing rules last year, primarily with the aim of attracting Chinese technology groups.

Since going public in New York, Alibaba's shares have more than doubled in value, giving it a market capitalisation of around US$460 billion.

In August, Alibaba reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit, aided by growth in its e-commerce and cloud computing businesses. — Reuters

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