Alibaba eyeing Hong Kong listing in late Nov, say sources

Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou. The Chinese e-commerce giant had been working on an August listing in Hong Kong, but put the deal on hold as protests there created uncertainty.
Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou. The Chinese e-commerce giant had been working on an August listing in Hong Kong, but put the deal on hold as protests there created uncertainty.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It seeks to raise up to $20b with deal that was put on hold amid anti-govt protests

HONG KONG • Alibaba Group Holding plans to launch a Hong Kong share offering to raise US$10 billion to US$15 billion (S$13.6 billion to S$20 billion) in the final week of this month, in a deal that could boost the Asian financial hub as it struggles with anti-government protests.

Listed in the United States, the 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.

The listing process and bookbuild would then proceed during the week of Nov 25, said the sources, who declined to be identified owing to the sensitivity of the matter.

An Alibaba spokesman declined to comment to Reuters on the timing of the listing.

The transaction, Dealogic data showed, would be the world's biggest cross-border secondary listing.

Alibaba holds the record for the world's biggest initial public offering (IPO) for its US$25 billion 2014 float in New York.

The e-commerce giant's Hong Kong listing would also set up a year-end rush for global equity markets, with the Saudi Arabian government planning to sell 2 per cent of oil giant Aramco in a deal that could raise up to US$30 billion and topple Alibaba's own IPO record.

Alibaba had initially been working on an August listing in Hong Kong, but put the deal on hold as anti-government protests in the city created financial and political uncertainty.

The new timing means the company 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.

Alibaba's sales last year reached US$30 billion on Singles Day, which was more than three times as large as on Cyber Monday, the equivalent shopping day in the US.

The company reported last week that second-quarter revenue increased by 40 per cent to 119.02 billion yuan (S$23.1 billion), from 85.15 billion yuan in the same quarter last year.

The result beat analysts' expectations of revenue of 116.8 billion yuan, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company will appoint more banks next week to help sell its shares in Hong Kong, sources said.

The deal is led by China International Capital Corp and Credit Suisse. Major investment banks, led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, are jockeying for the most senior positions behind those two.

Alibaba has also worked closely with Deutsche Bank in the past, according to Refinitiv statistics, but the bank slashed headcount in its equity capital market business worldwide this summer.

If both the Alibaba and Aramco deals succeed, they could provide a boost for moribund capital markets, where investors have proved increasingly sceptical of the valuations sought by much-hyped tech start-ups, such as ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies which has fallen 34 per cent since its float in May.

More recently, office-space sharing start-up WeWork was forced to drop IPO plans and seek a cash injection from Japan's SoftBank Group, a major shareholder, as its valuation collapsed to US$8 billion from US$47 billion as recently as January.

Companies so far this year have sold shares worth US$429 billion via IPOs and follow-on sales - running far short of the US$604 billion they sold in the whole of last year, according to data from Refinitiv.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2019, with the headline 'Alibaba eyeing HK listing in late Nov, say sources'. Print Edition | Subscribe