Alibaba set for HKEX IPO amid ongoing unrest Published: 2019/11/14 1:38:33

Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province Photo: IC

Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group is set to launch what is expected to be the largest fundraising in Hong Kong in recent years, marking a massive boost to the major financial hub amid months of city-wide unrest.

The company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), plans to issue 12.5 million shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) as part of a global 500 million share offering, Alibaba said in a prospectus released Wednesday.

The prospectus did not include when the company would launch its widely-anticipated IPO. According to a Reuters report, citing unnamed sources, trading could start Thursday, though the South China Morning Post (SCMP), which is owned by Alibaba, suggested the IPO could arrive on the week of November 25.

The Alibaba listing is expected to raise between $10-$15 billion, according to SCMP. At the high end, it would be the largest IPO since insurance group AIA's roughly $20.3 billion listing in 2010.

The move came just days after Alibaba saw record sales of 268.4 billion yuan ($38.23 billion) during the Singles' Day online shopping spree, despite downward pressure for the Chinese economy amid a trade war.

Alibaba plans to use the funds raised from the HKEX listing to increase investment in areas such as online delivery and tourism services, according to the prospectus.

The move by Alibaba, one of the largest and fastest-growing companies in the world, to list in Hong Kong could serve as a significant financial boost for the city, whose status as a major financial hub has been harmed by the ongoing riots, analysts said.

"This could be a model for attracting more internet companies to consolidate and develop Hong Kong's status as a global financial center," Liang Haiming, a Hong Kong-based economist, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Alibaba issued a Hong Kong IPO while keeping its shares in New York, after Hong Kong regulators approved a dual-class share mechanism in April 2018. Alibaba's IPO, even at the lower end of $10 billion, would help lift the city to the top of the global IPO race this year, SCMP reported.

The event will mark a rare highlight in Hong Kong, which has slipped into recession for the first time in a decade, amid months of rioting and an ongoing trade war between China and the US. Violence and vandalism carried out by violent protesters have destroyed public facilities and businesses while turning away tourists and global capital.

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