Alibaba Group Holding priced its initial public offering at US$68 a share, the top end of the expected range, raising US$21.8 billion on Thursday.
The sale, which values the Chinese e-commerce giant at US$167.6 billion, is the largest by any company in the United States and has the potential to break the global record if additional shares are sold to underwriters, Bloomberg News reported.
A poll conducted for Thomson Reuters found that 88 percent of Americans had never heard of Alibaba, which is responsible for 80 percent of online sales in China.
But that didn’t prevent some 35 to 40 institutions to pay orders for US$1 billion or more shares each, Reuters reported, citing sources.
Based on the amount raised so far, Alibaba’s IPO is the third largest ever behind Agricultural Bank of China’s record US$22.1 billion listing in 2010 and ICBC’s US$22 billion flotation in 2006.
Jack Ma, a former English teacher who founded the company in a one-bedroom apartment with an initial capital of US$60,000, will now be worth US$14 billion, vaulting him into the ranks of tech billionaires like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, the report said.
The deal also allows cornerstone investors like Japan’s Softbank and Yahoo to profit from their foresight in getting in on the ground floor at the e-commerce giant.
Yahoo is selling some US$8 billion worth of shares in the IPO, leaving it with a 16.3 percent stake, while Softbank will be the largest single shareholder with a 32 percent stake.
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