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Alibaba Group said to hold US IPO in third quarter this year

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March 15
8:37 AM 2014

Sources told Reuters that China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba Group intends to go public in the US in the third quarter this year, a deal that is predicted to be worth over $15 billion. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity as the information is not public.

One of the people with knowledge of the matter said Alibaba could submit listing documents with regulators in the US as early as April. However, an Alibaba Spokeswoman told Reuters, "There is no timeline, no venue selected nor have any underwriters been hired for an IPO event."

Investment banks are closely watching the deal as it is expected to spawn underwriting fees amounting to $260 million. The sources said the two banks that could lead the underwriters are Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. They added that there are other lenders that are set to be part of the underwriters but did not reveal names, the report said.

The developments of the Alibaba IPO is also closely monitored by its two biggest stakeholders, Yahoo Inc and Softbank Corp. Yahoo holds a 24% stake in the Chinese firm while Japan-based Softbank Corp has a 37% control of the company. Even the founders and some senior managers of Alibaba are also watching the listing because they hold a 13% stake in the e-commerce firm which is valued to be no less than $140 billion, the report said.

Based in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba holds a commanding 80% share of the e-commerce market in China. It had originally talked with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange about a possible listing but their proposal was barred because the regulators said it run afoul of their "one-share-one-vote principle." The e-commerce firm and regulators in Hong Kong reopened discussions late in 2013. While it's not very clear if the two parties had finally closed negotiations, the sources said the chance of an IPO in Hong Kong is becoming more remote, the report said.

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