Alibaba Again Close To U.S. IPO

Led By Power 50 Member Jack Ma

Alibaba.comAfter waffling between a filing in Hong Kong and New York, China-based e-commerce firm Alibaba is now finally preparing for an IPO in the U.S. later this year, according to Chinese news agency Sina. The report, which cites banking sources, lists Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG as the underwriters hired by Alibaba.

The apparent decision follows months of speculation linking Alibaba to exchanges on two continents, as officials bid for an offering that will likely rival the size of Facebook’s $120 billion 2012 IPO. It’s believed Alibaba preferred to hold its IPO in Asia, but regulators there would not bend certain governance rules affecting company control.

Led by Counselor Power 50 member Jack Ma, Alibaba has sought, throughout the IPO process, to retain the authority to appoint board members. Under structures in Hong Kong, that authority might have been threatened, giving non-affiliated investors a say in Alibaba boardroom decisions. A similar IPO in New York would present far fewer control hurdles, according to analysts, as the NYSE and Nasdaq compete fiercely for listings, especially tech companies.

Ma, who founded Alibaba in 1999, stepped down as CEO last year, although he remains the de facto leader of the company. Alibaba’s extensive group of websites allows merchants to sell items – including promotional products – directly to consumers worldwide. Although Alibaba hasn’t publicly disclosed its 2013 revenues, the company’s sales likely reached $160 billion, according to traders.