HONG KONG, March 15 China's e-commerce giant
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is planning a U.S. IPO in the third
quarter of this year, people familiar with the matter told
Reuters, in what is the expected to be a more than $15 billion
The Hangzhou, China-based company, which controls about 80
percent of the country's e-commerce, had been in discussions
with the Hong Kong stock exchange and the Securities and Futures
Commission since last year about a potential listing, but the
island city's regulators blocked its proposal as it violated the
After an initial rebuff, Alibaba and the Hong Kong
regulators were back at the negotiating table late last year, to
find a solution to the vexed problem. While the Hong Kong
Exchanges and Clearing Ltd has initiated a review of
its listing rules to accommodate more flexible structures, any
change to the existing rules would take months.
Alibaba does not want to miss the technology boom, which has
boosted valuations of Internet companies both in the United
States and in Hong Kong. Alibaba's planned IPO would be the
highest-profile Internet listing since Facebook Inc's $16
billion deal in 2012.
It was not entirely clear if talks between Alibaba and the
Hong Kong regulators have completely ceased, but the chances of
a Hong Kong listing looks increasingly unlikely, the people
The sources declined to be identified as the information is
Alibaba could file listing documents with the U.S.
regulators as soon as April, one of the people said. The deal is
crucial for investment banks as it is estimated it will generate
$260 million in underwriting fees, Reuters previously reported.
"There is no timeline, no venue selected nor have any
underwriters been hired for an IPO event," an Alibaba
'NO CHANGE TO STRUCTURE'
The listing also is closely watched by Alibaba's two largest
shareholders - Yahoo Inc which owns 24 percent and
Japan's Softbank Corp which controls 37 percent.
Alibaba's founders and some senior managers jointly own about 13
percent of the company, which analysts estimate is worth at
least $140 billion.
Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley are among
the two banks poised to win top underwriting mandates, while
other banks are also expected to join the syndicate, the people
familiar with the matter added.
Alibaba's corporate structure allows a group of top partners
to nominate and control the board, which is at odds with Hong
Kong's stock exchange's listing rules.
Joe Tsai, Alibaba's executive vice chairman told Reuters in
an interview this week the company would not change its
partnership structure in order to list on the Hong Kong stock
"The one thing I can't understand is people think we're
going to change our partnership structure just to accommodate a
listing in Hong Kong, that's never going to happen," said Tsai.
Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley did not reply to emails