HK's future 'remains bright', Alibaba says amid stock offering

November 15, 2019 11:43
Hong Kong will remain a major financial center as it has undertaken 'many encouraging' reforms in its capital market, Alibaba Group chairman Daniel Zhang said. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong’s “future is bright” as a top financial center, Alibaba Group Chairman Daniel Zhang said, as the Chinese ecommerce giant kicked off the retail campaign for its secondary listing in the city. 

In the chairman’s letter included in Alibaba's supplementary prospectus, Zhang made no mention of the unrest that has been rocking Hong Kong since the summer, Reuters reports.

“Over the last few years, there have been many encouraging reforms in Hong Kong’s capital market. During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright,” Zhang wrote.

The comment came as Alibaba began marketing its shares for a secondary listing in Hong Kong.

The Hangzhou-headquartered firm aims to raise up to US$13.4 billion in its Hong Kong listing, and the shares are due to start trading on Nov. 26.

The retail price of the shares will be capped at HK$188 each.

The share sale is set to be Hong Kong’s largest in more than nine years, and comes as Beijing seeks support from business tycoons and entrepreneurs to maintain a sense of business-as-usual in Hong Kong in the face of more than five months of unrest, Reuters noted.

The institutional price will be finalized on Nov. 20 following a book build which is underway for global investors.

In the retail portion, 12.5 million shares will be offered, representing 2.5 percent of the total deal. However, it is possible that the tranche could be increased to up to 50 million shares, or 10 percent of the total transaction.

Alibaba also has the option to exercise a so-called over-allotment option to add an extra 75 million shares to the deal.

In a first for Hong Kong, Alibaba said the listing would be fully automated and paperless to reflect its environmental standards, confirming an earlier Reuters story.

Investment bankers familiar with the listing however said the move avoided a potential publicity nightmare of investors queuing at banks to place stock orders while protests raged around them.

Alibaba had originally considered a Hong Kong IPO in 2013, but ultimately chose New York after failing to gain approval from Hong Kong regulators at that time for its unusual governance structure.

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