Alibaba eyes China 'listing' as early as mid-year: IFR

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is planning a mainland listing via depositary receipts that could come as early as the middle of this year, Thomson Reuters unit IFR reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

China has been looking for ways to lure home its offshore-listed tech giants such as Alibaba, giving Chinese investors more access to the fast-growing firms that have traditionally opted to list overseas or in Hong Kong.

Any listing would use so-called China depositary receipts (CDRs), similar to American depositary receipts, which while not technically shares, are certificates that allow investors to hold shares listed elsewhere.

Reuters reported earlier this month, citing sources, that China’s securities regulator was likely to finalize guidelines for CDRs in the second half of this year.

“The new rules on CDRs may be introduced as soon as the end of next month,” the person told IFR. “So the first batch of issuers may launch CDRs as soon as the middle of this year.”

Alibaba, which has a market capitalization of $473 billion, currently has a listing in the United States.

The person with knowledge of Alibaba’s CDR plans said the fundraising size was yet to be determined, but may be more than 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion).

Alibaba has repeatedly said it is open to issuing shares on the mainland if compliant with Chinese regulation.

“Since our IPO in the U.S., we have stated that if regulations allow, we would consider a listing in China,” Alibaba said previously when asked about plans for issuing CDRs. The firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

China’s plan to allow CDRs could also open the door to other Chinese tech firms listed outside the mainland, including Inc, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc, Weibo Corp and Sogou Inc.

Reporting by Yikun Wang in BEIJING and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Additional reporting by Cate Cadell in BEIJING;Editing by Christopher Cushing