Chinese cloud and e-commerce giant Alibaba chases the biggest tech IPO of all time

7 May 2014

Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba has filed for an IPO that will value the company at up to US$200bn. The company is looking to sell a 12pc stake, making the offering reach around US$20bn.

The IPO will top the US$19.6bn offering by Visa Inc in 2008. This will make it the largest IPO in US business history.

Alibaba hasn’t yet decided whether it will list on the New York Stock Exchange or the more tech-heavy NASDAQ exchange.

Alibaba is kind of like online auction giant eBay, e-commerce site Amazon and internet giant Yahoo! – which owns 23pc of Alibaba – combined into one. Former English teacher Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999.

In 2012, two of Alibaba’s portals handled 1.1trn yuan (US$170bn) in sales, which is more than eBay and combined. Last year, this grew to some US$248bn.

Globally, the company employs around 24,000 people. Today, it is one of the 20 most-visited websites in the world, accounting for 60pc of parcels delivered in China and featuring more than 1bn products.

The decision to float the company in the US happened after Alibaba could not reach a deal with regulators in Hong Kong.

It is envisaged that if the IPO is a success, more Chinese tech companies will opt to float on US stock exchanges.

Chinese dragon image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years