Alibaba snuffs out talk of share offering this quarter

But web giant's denial that IPO application has been submitted fails to curb chatter on valuation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 4:41am

Alibaba, the country's biggest e-commerce firm, quelled market speculation yesterday that it would launch its long-anticipated stock offering in Hong Kong as soon as this quarter.

Local media reported yesterday the company had submitted an application for an initial public offering, but people close to Alibaba's IPO planning process and sources at the stock exchange swiftly denied the reports.

Alibaba spokesman John Spelich flatly denied yesterday an application had been made. "No timeline. No bankers hired. No location selected," he said.

Bankers and company insiders indicated earlier the offering would take place in the fourth quarter or early next year, and this seems unlikely to change.

With an expectation for IPO hype towards the year end, Alibaba's IPO is expected to come at the earliest in October
Andy Wang, a Shanghai-based analyst at Yuanta Securities

"With an expectation for IPO hype towards the year end, Alibaba's IPO is expected to come at the earliest in October," said Andy Wang, a Shanghai-based analyst at Yuanta Securities.

Market participants cannot agree on the Hangzhou-based firm's worth, and the broad range of valuations - between US$60 billion and US$100 billion - was one of the major hurdles for potential investors, Wang said.

Based on Alibaba's internal share transfers ahead of the planned listing, he said the firm was worth about US$70 billion.

Should Alibaba succeed in achieving a market capitalisation of US$100 billion, it would rank as the third-largest internet firm behind US search giant Google, with a market capitalisation of US$303 billion, and online retailer valued at US$138 billion.

Separately, Alibaba said yesterday it had developed a "smart TV" operating system that would be integrated into set-top boxes from Wasu Media, which has more than eight million internet television subscribers on the mainland.

Mainland television makers Changhong, Skyworth and Haier will also integrate the system into their smart TV products.

Alibaba, which created its own smartphone operating system in 2011, said the new smart platform would allow consumers to access and share digital content with all their smart devices, as well as shop and pay bills through their internet-linked televisions.

Additional reporting by Bien Perez