Alibaba set to open Yahoo buy-back
The mainland internet entrepreneur Jack Ma Yun may be ready to unwrap financing for a much-awaited deal with Yahoo after his flagship e-commerce company, Alibaba.com, suspended trading in its shares in Hong Kong yesterday.
In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, Ma, the chairman of Alibaba.com, said the suspension was made pending clarification about an undisclosed transaction involving the company's controlling shareholder, Alibaba Group, 'which may be potentially price sensitive'.
The company's Hangzhou-based parent, Alibaba Group, which Ma founded in 1999 and still chairs, has reportedly been in negotiations with six banks to raise a US$3 billion loan for buying back the group's shares held by struggling US internet firm Yahoo.
The privately held Alibaba Group declined to comment.
According to a report last week by Thomson Reuters' LPC service, which quoted market sources, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Credit Suisse, DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Mizuho Corporate Bank were forming a syndicate to underwrite the US$3 billion financing.
Alibaba Group, which also operates the three privately held Taobao internet shopping platforms, has been looking at a plan to buy back about a quarter of Yahoo's 40 per cent shareholding.
Reports in December said the combined share repurchase by Alibaba Group and the sale of Yahoo's 35 per cent interest in Yahoo Japan would be worth more than US$17 billion.
Ma had earlier said about lining up the cash needed to back Alibaba's proposed deal with Yahoo: 'We never think finance is a problem. The money is there.'
Alibaba Group has also been preparing to face scrutiny in the US about its proposed Yahoo share buyback.
The Washington lobbying firm Duberstein Group revealed in a disclosure filed with the US Senate of Public Records that it was hired by Alibaba Group in December.