Home Business Alibaba flotation: Shares surge in biggest-ever IPO

Alibaba flotation: Shares surge in biggest-ever IPO


Alibaba’s shares closed significantly above their initial price on the NYSE on Friday, September 19.

Shares in the company made their debut in the US at $92.70, after being priced at $68 late on Thursday.

They ended the $93.89 – 38% above the initial asking price.

More than 100 million shares were traded in the minutes after the stock was launched – more than Twitter.

Earlier in the day, founder and chairman Jack Ma rang the opening bell.

The NYSE was festooned with the orange and white logos of the company to herald its arrival on public markets.

The company raised nearly $21.8 billion in its share sale, indicating strong investor appetite for China’s e-commerce giant.

Alibaba is now valued at $231.4 billion – making it significantly larger than Amazon and Facebook.

Alibaba's shares closed significantly above their initial price on the NYSE

Alibaba’s shares closed significantly above their initial price on the NYSE (photo Reuters)

If Alibaba’s bankers decide to take up an option in which they can purchase 48 million shares themselves, then Alibaba’s launch will have raised nearly $25 billion – breaking the previous $22.1bn record set by China’s Agricultural Bank in 2010.

Alibaba operates a series of online marketplaces in China and elsewhere, handling more transactions than Amazon and eBay combined.

It is responsible for more than 80% of online e-commerce in China.

Alibaba’s share sale is being viewed as a way to invest in e-commerce growth in China.

Already, the country is home to the largest population of internet users on the planet – and most estimates say that only half of China’s 1.3 billion residents have signed online.

That is why investors have been angling for some time to get a piece of Alibaba – long the market leader in e-commerce in China.

However, investors are not buying shares directly in Alibaba’s companies operating in China, but rather in a holding company in Cayman Islands which has a profits contract with Alibaba.

That has made some wary, and it is one reason why Alibaba did not list on Hong Kong’s stock exchange.

Either way, the sale is expected to make millionaires out of a large number of the company’s managers, software engineers and other staff.

Currently Alibaba’s single largest shareholder is Japan’s Softbank which holds a 32% stake. Yahoo also has a stake.

Alibaba made a profit of almost $2 billion in the three months to the end of June, with sales up by 46% year-on-year to $2.54 billion.

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