Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, beginning a process likely to raise at least $16 billion in an initial public offering in the U.S. In its filing, Alibaba did not reveal an offering price and remained silent on whether it plans to list on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange. The company did outline its financials, though, reporting 2013 global sales of $5.6 billion.
While Alibaba has ties to payment processing, cloud computing and film production, it’s most well-known for its websites that allow merchants to sell items – including promotional products – directly to people worldwide. Of particular note in North America, Alibaba has recently announced plans to launch a U.S. e-commerce website called 11 Main, which will sell jewelry, apparel and tech products.
Alibaba’s focus, though, seems consumer-driven at the moment, analysts note, especially in the wake of its recent deal with Amazon competitor ShopRunner. Last October, Alibaba paid $200 million to gain a 39% stake in ShopRunner, whose retail partners include Neiman Marcus. ShopRunner said this week it will begin using Alibaba’s logistics infrastructure to launch in China, essentially giving U.S. firms a window into the massive Chinese economy.
Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Counselor Power 50 member Jack Ma, a former schoolteacher who owns 9% of the tech firm. Based on its surging revenues and recent acquisitions, many analysts value Alibaba at roughly $200 billion. Alibaba’s IPO is being underwritten by Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. No firm IPO launch date has been set.