Hong Kong (dpa) – Chinese online retailer Alibaba Group kicked off its Asia roadshow Monday in Hong Kong, to promote an initial public offering that could become the biggest in history.
The internet giant continues with a two-week roadshow that began in New York last week to meet with potential investors across three continents.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma and group executives hosted a lunch with institutional investors at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Hong Kong. Ma
said at a press conference before the lunch that he “regretted” not being able to list in Hong Kong.
Alibaba’s complex company structure and interlocking stakes have raised concerns of a lack of transparency among investors.
The company failed to convince Hong Kong regulators to waive rules to allow the group’s 28 partners to retain majority control of the board after the firm starts trading.
This dual-class share structure arrangement is permissible in the United States.
The group’s listing is expected to begin trading on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under “BABA” at a range of 60 to 66 US dollars per share.
If Alibaba sells the maximum number of shares, it could raise as much as 24 billion US dollars. To be the biggest in history, Alibaba’s
listing has to beat the 22 billion dollars achieved by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010 in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Analysts say there is already high demand for shares in the company and this could drain capital in major stock exchanges and put other stocks in a less favorable position.
Ricky Lai, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Guotai Junan International, said Alibaba’s IPO could also become bigger.
“It was perhaps their strategy to set its valuation lower than market expectation in order to gauge investor interest and then increase the size of the deal,” he told dpa.
Ma is the richest person in China.
Alibaba’s trading platforms handle four-fifths of internet commerce in the world’s second-largest economy. A successful IPO would
catapult the company to fourth among global technology giants, behind Apple, Google and Microsoft. Even lower estimates of the float place it among the top 10.