Alibaba IPO 'racing against time'
Mainland e-commerce giant Alibaba has once again found itself racing against time, with the window rapidly closing on a planned blockbuster initial public offering - the second time in six months.
Alibaba is preparing for a multibillion-dollar deal in the United States which is expected to top Facebook's US$16 billion offering as the largest technology listing, but the pressure is on to complete the share sale before the end of next month, when most fund managers will begin their summer holiday.
That would mean filing documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission within weeks, if not days.
One fund manager, who is closely monitoring the planned listing, said that if Alibaba chairman Jack Ma Yun wanted to get the company listed before the summer holiday, he would have to act "as soon as possible".
"The listing application should be made soon," he said, adding that Alibaba was basically "in a race against time".
"Who knows what the market will be like tomorrow? So, the sooner [it can get listed], the better," he said.
Some media reports predicted this week that Alibaba would file its listing documents after the US market close yesterday.
One of Alibaba's key competitors on the mainland, online retailer JD.com filed for a US listing in January, although market uncertainties meant the company has just begun "premarketing" work for its US$1.5 billion initial share sale.
Although JD.com's offering is smaller than Alibaba's, market participants still expect its price range and investor feedback to give an early indication of the appetite for Alibaba and many other Chinese technology stocks.
If Alibaba wants to get listed by July, it would need to file its listing application before the end of this month to ensure it has enough time to prepare for premarketing work and subsequent roadshows to attract international investors, which could last for a month.
After failing last year to convince regulators in Hong Kong to accommodate its special corporate governance structure, Alibaba announced it would focus instead on a US listing. It has since acquired a number of public and private companies.
Alibaba owns and operates the mainland's largest online retail portals, including Taobao and Tmall. Transactions on its online sites totalled US$240 billion last year, more than those of eBay and Amazon.com combined.
According to CLSA, Alibaba controls 80 per cent of the mainland's online shopping market.
Some bullish forecasts say Alibaba's market value could reach US$250 billion, which would make it the fourth-biggest technology firm after Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Additional reporting by George Chen