Strong demand for mainland internet firm's IPO causes flood of margin-loan orders Hot demand for Alibaba.com's shares helped push the Hong Kong dollar to a three-year high yesterday, as punters piled into the mainland's largest internet initial public offering. 'The company has a well-known brand name and its market penetration is remarkable,' said Ben Kwong Man-bun, the chief operating officer at KGI Securities. 'Investors think there will be upside potential.' KGI, Phillip Securities and Sun Hung Kai Securities said they saw huge demand for shares of the mainland's biggest business-to-business website on the first day the offering was opened to the public. The Hong Kong dollar touched HK$7.75 to the US dollar, the upper limit of the trading band introduced in 2005, partly as investors bought the local currency to invest in Alibaba and other share offers in the city. Investors are seeking new share offers that provide exposure to the booming mainland economy, the fastest growing in the world. The company on Monday raised its offer price almost 13 per cent to a maximum of HK$13.50 a share. That means Alibaba's global offer of 858.9 million shares could raise up to US$1.5 billion, the largest internet share sale after US-based Google's US$1.9 billion listing in August 2004. Phillip Securities received HK$9 billion worth of margin-loan orders for Alibaba, Sun Hung Kai Securities got HK$12 billion, while KGI received HK$1.5 billion. Sun Hung Kai Securities has already met its quota for Alibaba shares while Phillip Securities says it is close to its HK$10 billion target. The Alibaba offering earlier received orders from institutions for more than 50 times the shares available, reports said. Alibaba had 69 per cent of the mainland electronic-commerce market between businesses in the second quarter, compared with 8.4 per cent for Global Sources, according to Analysys International. 'Alibaba dominates the market,' said Jacky Huang, an analyst at market research firm IDC China. 'Global Sources is good for overseas buyers searching for manufacturers in China but not as user-friendly for mainland manufacturers searching for customers overseas.' Bank of China is offering lower interest rates and waiving the loan handling fee to buy Alibaba shares. Following the overwhelming demand, Alibaba will close the order book for institutional investors in Asia and the United States two days earlier than original planned. The company would stop taking orders from international institutions at 5pm tomorrow in Hong Kong and 6pm in Tokyo, it said in an e-mail to investors. The deadline will be 5pm for New York and 2pm for Los Angeles. However, the company will continue to take orders from institutions in Europe until October 26. Unlike other offerings, in which most shares are newly issued, almost 75 per cent of this stock offer is for existing shares held by Alibaba.com's parent, Alibaba Group.