Chinese E-commerce Giant Alibaba to Go Public in U.S. with Huge IPO

The corporate logo at the headquarters compound of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. (Photo: AP)
The corporate logo at the headquarters compound of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. (Photo: AP)

The biggest company you probably never heard of says it will go public with what analysts say could be a huge IPO.

The fancifully named Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group said Sunday it will begin the process of an initial public stock offering on the New York exchange soon. Analysts say it could raise $15 billion.

That’s a coup for the NYSE and a slap at the Hong Kong exchange, which won’t allow the current owners to carve out a controlling interest with special voting shares.

The announcement ended months of speculation about where the company would list its shares after talks for a Hong Kong stock sale fell apart last year.

Alibaba is one of a number of Chinese internet heavyweights planning to cash in with U.S. IPOs.

  • Chinese internet company Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblog unit filed plans for a potential U.S. IPO.
  • Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, indicates it plans to raise $500 million.
  • Chinese online retailing giant, JD.com, filed in January for a U.S. stock listing.

Alibaba Group doesn’t report its finances. But Yahoo, which owns a 24% stake in the company, said Alibaba’s revenue for the quarter ending in September rose 51% from a year earlier to $1.8 billion. That was down from 61% growth year over a year in the second quarter of 2013, and 71% in the first quarter of 2013.

Though the company isn’t well-known here, the name is. Ali Baba is a character in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, who discovers the key to the thieves’ treasure is, “Open, Sesame.”

Alibaba Holding began in 1999 as a Chinese shopping site and has spawned a number of business units since, including etao.com, as a “one-stop shopping engine” that lets Chinese consumers comparison shop and buy online.

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SOURCE: James R. Healey
USA TODAY

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