US bourses accept board plan: Alibaba

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 3:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 10:02am

Alibaba has paved the way for a listing in the United States, with a spokesman for the mainland e-commerce giant saying yesterday that both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq had accepted its special partnership structure, which would let its top executives nominate the majority of board members.

The two bourses had formally accepted Alibaba's partnership structure, which derailed its initial public offering (IPO) plan in Hong Kong, the spokesman said, adding: "We just want other people to understand the partnership structure is an open, innovative, responsible and sustainable system for a company's fundamental needs."

Another Alibaba spokesman said last night that the company had not yet selected an exchange or appointed underwriters for a US listing.

Hong Kong regulators had said there was no provision in listing rules that allowed preferential treatment of one group of shareholders over another.

"It's a pity that Hong Kong lost out on this iconic internet giant being listed in the city, but the Hong Kong stock exchange, as a regulator as well, had to safeguard the interests of minority shareholders," said Linus Yip Sheung-chi, strategist at First Shanghai Securities.

The rebuff by the Securities and Futures Commission and the exchange resulted in a war of words between the two camps.

Alibaba vice-chairman Joe Tsai said last month that Hong Kong had to consider what was needed in order to adapt to future trends or risk becoming content to look on as the rest of the world passed it by.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-Keung told a Legislative Council meeting this month that the exchange had no plans to consult the market about any changes in its listing rules.

The US is one of the few markets that allow a dual-class share structure, which means different shareholders have different rights.

Alibaba could have fetched up to HK$100 billion in a listing, Ernst & Young said in June. That would have made it Asia's biggest IPO since October 2010, when insurer AIA raised HK$159 billion.