Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing

[HONG KONG] Chinese technology giant Alibaba confirmed Friday its plans to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange, in an initial public listing aiming to raise up to US$13.8 billion.

The enormous IPO will give Hong Kong's financial authorities a huge boost as the city is battered by pro-democracy protests that have tarnished its image for security and hammered the Hang Seng Index.

Alibaba shares will be offered at a maximum of HK$188 per share, the ecommerce giant said in a statement.

The company is offering 500 million shares plus an over-allocation option, meaning the sale could be worth as much as US$13.8 billion.

It would be one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade, after insurance giant AIA garnered US$20.5 billion in 2010.

Alibaba had planned to list in the summer but called it off owing to the city's long-running pro-democracy protests and the China-US trade war.

Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Chief Executive Officer, said the group wanted to "contribute, in our small way, and participate in the future of Hong Kong".

"During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright," he said.

The firm's shares are already traded in New York. A second listing in Hong Kong is expected to 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 Baidu to Wall Street.

In the statement, Mr Zhang said that when Alibaba went public in 2014 it "missed out on Hong Kong with regret".

Mainland authorities have also stepped up moves to attract such firms, including launching a new technology board in Shanghai in July.

The listing comes after the city's exchange tweaked the rules to allow double listings, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam had also been pushing Alibaba's billionaire founder Jack Ma to sell shares in the city.

AFP