Sources say Alibaba Group is considering raising $20bn via a second listing in Hong Kong after a record-breaking 2014 New York debut
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is considering raising $20 billion via a second listing in Hong Kong after a record-breaking 2014 New York debut, people with knowledge of the matter said, a mega-deal that will bring China’s largest company closer to friendlier investors at home as US tensions escalate.
The e-commerce giant is working with financial advisers on the planned offering, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Alibaba aims to file a listing application in Hong Kong confidentially as early as the second half of 2019, the people said.
A second listing is intended to diversify its funding channels and boost liquidity, one of the people said. The plans are preliminary and could change, they added.
The monster share sale comes as Chinese companies grapple with rising tensions between Beijing and Washington, and an increasingly hostile US government that’s slapped export curbs on Huawei Technologies Co and is considering similar restrictions against a clutch of artificial intelligence firms. A Hong Kong offering may have the benefit of tightening Alibaba’s ties with Beijing, in addition to the money raised.
“A large part of it is politics, especially because of the timing,” said David Dai, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bernstein. “Another part of it is potentially better valuation in the Hong Kong market.”
A successful deal will rival AIA Group Ltd’s 2010 IPO as Hong Kong’s largest-ever share sale, a triumph for a city that’s ceded many of China’s largest corporations to US exchanges. Alibaba raised $25 billion in New York in the world’s largest initial public offering after struggling to persuade Hong Kong regulators to approve its unique structure, under which a coterie of partners decide board membership.
Hong Kong’s exchange finally relaxed restrictions and granted the green light for dual-share classes last year, allowing internet services giant Meituan Dianping and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp the right to issue stock with different voting rights.
Alibaba declined to comment. Its New York-traded shares have slid more than 21 percent over the year to Friday’s close, but at roughly $400 billion it still counts among the world’s 10 largest publicly traded corporations and would be a feather in Hong Kong’s cap.
Like other tech giants, Alibaba is said to have considered a Chinese Depositary Receipt issuance last year when Beijing touted the idea. That would have given mainland investors a direct opportunity to hold the company’s shares, though Alibaba would not have been able to raise as much capital. But CDRs have since been held up by regulatory complexities.
Shares in Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, the operator of the city’s bourse, climbed as much as 3.5 percent.