It’s not Hong Kong that missed Alibaba, but Alibaba that missed Hong Kong.
With those words, Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma tried to smooth ruffled feelings in the city where he originally intended to launch what is now heralded as the biggest initial public offering in history.
“We missed the great opportunity to list in Hong Kong. I speak from my heart. I love Hong Kong,” Ma told media ahead of a meeting with investors in the city on Monday.
Alibaba was not able to list in Hong Kong because of insufficient communication, wrong timing and inadequate preparation, he said.
Ma did not respond directly to a reporter’s question on whether he will consider listing in Hong Kong after the company’s trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Regulators are now consulting the public about Alibaba’s controversial dual-class share structure.
He said he supports Hong Kong for not giving up its principles in favor of individual companies, but he also thinks the world is changing and Hong Kong should also change for the sake of its own development and the younger generation.
Ma said he will continue to invest in Hong Kong, and he hopes to provide opportunities for small enterprises and young people in the city to develop their careers in the mainland.
Alibaba is now on a two-week global roadshow to promote its share offering. It is expected to raise as much as US$24.3 billion in the exercise before the stock debuts on the New York Stock Exchange this Friday.
Ma said he hopes Alibaba will become a global enterprise, and while the company will focus on driving its business in the US and Europe after the trading debut, it will not give up its business in Asia.
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