Alibaba’s Jack Ma to let clients ring IPO opening bell at NYSE

Alibaba founder Jack Ma made the decision several weeks ago not to ring the bell, an event that many executives see as the crowning moment of the IPO process, and will watch the ceremony from the floor of the NYSE. —  AFP pic
Alibaba founder Jack Ma made the decision several weeks ago not to ring the bell, an event that many executives see as the crowning moment of the IPO process, and will watch the ceremony from the floor of the NYSE. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, Sept 19 — Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s US$21.8 billion (RM70.6  billion) initial public offering, the biggest ever in the US, will culminate tomorrow with the ringing of the bell on the New York Stock Exchange—except none of its executives, including Chairman Jack Ma, will be up there.

The e-commerce company opted instead to have eight customers, from a Washington state cherry farmer to a Chinese Olympian-turned-bracelet-seller, stand on the podium to open the US markets for trading tomorrow, according to a person familiar with the matter. While the customers had been invited to the NYSE for Alibaba’s first day of trading, they weren’t informed of this role until today, said the person, who asked not to be named because the details are still private.

The decision to allow Alibaba clients to ring the opening bell is in tune with the letter Ma included in the IPO prospectus, where he said: “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third.” Ma made the decision several weeks ago not to ring the bell, an event that many executives see as the crowning moment of the IPO process, and will watch the ceremony from the floor of the NYSE, the person said.

Alibaba and backers including Yahoo! Inc. sold 320.1 million shares for US$68 each, raising US$21.8 billion in the IPO. — Bloomberg

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