Alibaba considers Hong Kong listing, says founder Ma

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has said that the company will “seriously consider” listing in Hong Kong, as the financial hub prepares to allow dual-class share listings.

Reuters reports that Jack Ma made the comments at an event in Hong Kong, in response to remarks made by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam about how she hoped Alibaba would consider returning to Hong Kong to list.

“Daring to speak like this marks a strong commitment so we will definitely seriously consider the Hong Kong market,” Ma said in response to Lam’s speech, according to a transcript provided by Alibaba.

The Alibaba spokeswoman said there were no further details available on what any Hong Kong listing plan could involve.

Alibaba held its record USD 25 billion public float in New York in 2014 after Hong Kong, its favored venue, refused to accept its governance structure where a self-selecting group of senior managers control the majority of board appointments.

Hong Kong is now set to allow dual-class shares under rule changes to be proposed by the city’s stock exchange as it raises the stakes in its battle against New York for blockbuster Chinese initial public offerings. Such shares grant differentiated voting rights and underpin the alternative governance and shareholding structures favored by many owners of new age industries such as technology.

Over USD 3 billion worth of Alibaba shares were traded on Monday, based on Reuters calculations using NASDAQ data. The stock closed at USD 190.33, with 16.23 million shares traded.

The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing(HKEX) said in December 2017 that it had begun drafting specific rule changes for allowing dual-class shares that will be put up for a formal public consultation in the first three months of 2018.

Under the planned rule changes, “innovative” Chinese companies with a market capitalization over HK$10 billion and a primary listing on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq or the London Stock Exchange would be able to seek a secondary listing in Hong Kong. The HKEX has not yet defined what “innovative” is.

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