What is Alibaba and when is the IPO?


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The Independent Online

The countdown for Alibaba's New York float has begun and the stage is set for what could be the biggest initial public offering of all-time.

But what exactly is Alibaba? Known as the Chinese e-Bay, Alibaba is the world's biggest e-commerce business.

The group has three major websites- Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com- which operate as a selling platform for consumers and businesses. Overall, the group handled $248 billion in transactions last year- that's more than eBay and Amazon combined.

What's happening on Friday? Alibaba is finally going public after months of speculation and investors are getting really excited about it.

How much could it raise? Earlier this week, Alibaba raised its price range from $60-$66 a share to $66 to $68 a share citing strong demand. At $68 per share, the company would raise more than $25 billion, making it the biggest public offering ever.

When will it start trading? The price will be set tonight and shares in the Chinese e-commerce giant are set to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) tomorrow under the ticker symbol BABA.


Who are the winners so far? Founder Jack Ma is expected to become China's richest man and Alibaba is already proving a huge win for Japan's Softbank and Yahoo. Both companies own a stake in Alibaba and have seen their share price jump ahead of the IPO.

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Back in 2000, Softbank's chairman and chief executive Masayoshi Son made a $20 million investment in the little known Alibaba.com and his bet has paid off. Shares in Softbank, which has a 37 per cent stake in Alibaba and no immediate plans to sell, are up 16 per cent and Son himself has been crowned Japan's richest man with a little help from the Internet giant.

How about Yahoo? The company owns a 22 per cent stake but has already indicated it plans to sell 140 million shares and return at least half the cash from the IPO to shareholders, which could be in the form of a stock buyback or a dividend.

With a huge pile of cash coming Yahoo's way, investors are also curious to see what chief executive Marissa Mayer, who's been on acquisition spree, will do with the money and get a clearer picture into Yahoo's value in the US.

Who's behind the deal? Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are running the IPO.