Alibaba eyeing Europe and US for growth after IPO, says Jack Ma

Alibaba chief talks of growth plans while visiting Hong Kong to launch roadshow

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 3:23am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 9:07am

Mainland e-commerce giant Alibaba plans to speed up its business expansion in the US and Europe after its mammoth initial public offering in New York this week, chairman Jack Ma Yun said in Hong Kong yesterday.

Ma also said Alibaba respected Hong Kong's decision to turn down its proposed partnership structure, which led to it seeking to list in New York instead, describing the decision to list elsewhere as "a regrettable move" due to Alibaba's lack of preparedness and limited communication with relevant parties.

"I speak from my heart, I love Hong Kong," Ma, 50, said at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Kowloon, where hundreds of institutional investors and reporters had gathered for the start of Alibaba's pre-IPO roadshow in Asia.

"We hope to become a truly global company."

Ma, a former English teacher who founded the e-retailer in Hangzhou in 1999, said it planned to expand its footprint in the United States and Europe, but would not give up on Asia.

Alibaba accounted for 80 per cent of online retail sales in China last year.

Through a number of profitable sites including Taobao and Tmall, it generated gross merchandise volume of US$296 billion in the 12 months to the end of June this year, on the back of growing internet usage and an expanding middle class.

"I just heard that they raised the upper price range of their guidance, which is somewhat in contrast to what Jack Ma said in the opening remarks of today's presentation," a hedge fund manager said after the lunch.

Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the new price range.

"They wanted to sell at what they thought the company was worth," the hedge fund manager said.

The Post reported last week that the company's original price range of between US$60 and US$66 per share could be increased following overwhelming demand in the US, where it launched its roadshow last week.

Alibaba is set to price the deal on Thursday and begin trading on Friday.

Under the original price range, Alibaba plans to raise up to US$21 billion in its New York float, with an option to raise a record US$24.3 billion by issuing more shares.

Alibaba decided to list in New York after Hong Kong regulators refused to give it an exemption for its special partnership structure, which gives Ma and his executives the power to nominate a majority of the board members.

"Jack is saying that the partnership structure is the best way to incentivise Alibaba's leaders to continue to innovate and compete, but basically this would be true for any other company as well," a fund manager said.

"This is a bit like rewriting the rules of capitalism. Time will tell who's right."

Another two fund managers said Ma's remarks in Hong Kong yesterday had failed to impress investors.