Alibaba files for public share sale

A photo showing Alibaba website on a computer screen Founded in an apartment in 2005 Alibaba has grown to become one of world's the biggest internet firms

Related Stories

Chinese internet giant Alibaba has filed documents for a public share sale in the US, which is widely expected to be one of the biggest in history.

In its filing, the company said it was seeking to raise $1bn (£589m). But that figure is seen just as an estimate to calculate various fees.

Analysts expect it to raise more than $15bn and top Facebook's share sale.

Alibaba did not disclose details of the number of shares it intends to sell or their price range.

It also did not reveal which US exchange - the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange - it is looking to list its shares on.

Smartphone growth

Founded 15 years ago by Jack Ma, the firm has been a dominant force in e-commerce in China and is now the biggest online retailer in the country.

Start Quote

It has the potential to become a true global e-commerce powerhouse”

End Quote Roger Entner Recon Analytics

While it has been a key player in the sector for many years, its filing gave investors the first glimpse at the firm's finances.

The firm generated revenues of 40.5bn yuan ($6.5bn; £3.8bn) in the nine months to the end of December 2013, making a net profit of $2.9bn.

The documents reveal that last year, the value of all merchandise sold on Alibaba's various platforms was $248bn, with more than 11.3 billion orders placed.

The total value of merchandise sold on its platforms last year was more than that sold on Amazon and eBay combined.

In a nod to the importance of smartphones, the firm said it was responsible for 72% of mobile commerce in China.

That is important as Alibaba has been locked in competition recently with rival Tencent - China's largest internet firm - to attract mobile shoppers.

Analysts said there was likely to be keen interest in the share sale as investors hope the firm will be able to replicate its success in China on a global scale.

"If it is able to transport that kind of power to outside China, it has the potential to become a true global e-commerce powerhouse," said Roger Entner, lead analyst and founder of Recon Analytics.

Windfall?

Among the major shareholders set to benefit from the listing are US technology giant Yahoo and Japan's Softbank.

Yahoo owns a 22.6% stake in the firm, while Softbank owns 34% of the company.

Yahoo had paid $1bn for a 40% stake in Alibaba in 2005.

Jack Ma Yahoo bought a major stake in Alibaba in 2005 and is set to benefit from the firm's public share sale

It sold half of that stake back to Alibaba in May 2012 for $7.1bn. That deal saw the Chinese firm pay Yahoo $6.3bn in cash and up to $800m in Alibaba's preferred stock.

According to an agreement between the two firms, Yahoo has to either sell a part of its remaining stake in Alibaba back to the Chinese firm ahead of the share sale, or include its shares in those being sold to investors.

SoftBank will continue to own more than 30% stake in Alibaba after the listing.

Alibaba's various other operations include a cloud computing business and a group buying website.

Its online payments processing network, Alipay, was spun off in 2011 and is not a part of the listing.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission is just the first step in what is expected to be a process that will take several months before Alibaba's stock listing.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    MORTGAGE LENDING 10:33:

    And what about Northern Ireland? The CML says things have been busy there too. As a result, the typical mortgage size for first-time buyers was £78,000 in the second quarter of the year, compared to £72,000 in the previous quarter. The typical first-time buyer household had a gross income of £26,300.

     
  2.  
    LAGARDE PROBE? 10:16:

    The Reuters news agency is reporting that the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has been put under formal investigation for "negligence" in a French political fraud investigation case. The agency cites a source "close to Ms Lagarde".

     
  3.  
    MORTGAGE LENDING 10:09:

    More CML stats, this time about Scotland. Mortgage lending to home buyers jumped by 32% between the first and second quarters of the year. The typical loan for first-time buyers was £95,000, up from just under £90,000 in the first quarter. And the typical gross income of a first-time buyer household was £32,300.

     
  4.  
    MORTGAGE LENDING 09:52:

    Figures on regional mortgage lending have been published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) They look at London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the second quarter of the year. A few tasty facts about greater London. The typical gross income of a first-time buyer household was £55,000. 63% of first-time buyers bought properties costing more than £250,000. And first time buyers typically put down 25% deposits, more than elsewhere.

     
  5.  
    RBS FINE 09:32: BBC Radio 4

    RBS is very sorry for the poor mortgage advice it gave to 30,000 mortgage customers in recent years. Lloyd Cochrane, head of mortgages at RBS and its subsidiary NatWest told the Today programme that it reckons about 4% of those may have been disadvantaged financially. That's about 1,200 people. "We did not do a good enough job [but] very few customers lost out as a result of this," he said.

     
  6.  
    Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: "RBS's Lloyd Cochrane tells me the bank spent many months retraining staff; management "takes responsibility" for selling mistakes."

     
  7.  
    FOXTONS 08:56:
    Foxtons share price graph

    Shareholders don't seem happy about Foxtons' special dividend or higher profits. The shares are down almost 6%. Why? Perhaps some profit takers are among them. Or perhaps it's the warning that asking prices in London are dropping and it expects to see a slow down in transactions in the second half.

     
  8.  
    SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE 08:36:
    No campaign stuff

    Business hasn't been shouting about the matter. Views have been dripped out. Bigger names who have spoken up include Douglas Flint, head of HSBC, against, and Standard Life, also against to the extent the business said it would consider leaving the country if it chose independence.

     
  9.  
    MARKETS UPDATE 08:13:

    Shares in London have begun higher. The FTSE 100 is up 48 at 6,822.76. In Frankfurt, the Dax is up 29.83 at 7106.70 and in Paris the Cac 40 is up 51.30 at 4393.41.

     
  10.  
    HEADLINES
    • RBS and NatWest fined £15m for bad advice
    • Businesses doubt Scottish independence
    • Foxtons earnings jump after strong house sales
     
  11.  
    BANANA MERGER 07:52:
    Fruit

    An update on Fyffes and Chiquita's attempt to merge and complete their corporate fruit salad. They say they hope to save $60m a year in overheads. Their official name for this plan is "the Combination". The capital C is vital, of course.

     
  12.  
    RBS FINE 07:38:

    All this was happening four years after the government bailed out RBS, years after it had started eating humble pie for mis-selling payment protection insurance, and after it had been discovered committing other misdemeanours. The FCA said: "Only 2 of the 164 sales reviewed were considered to meet the standard required overall in a sales process."

     
  13.  
    CARS TO RUSSIA 07:37: BBC Radio 4

    Sanctions have not dampened the enthusiasm of car firms to sell their vehicles in Russia - the world's seventh biggest car market. The Moscow Motor Show is getting underway and fully bullet-proof cars are on offer. Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, told the Today programme he was taking the long view with nine new models being launched. "Our plan is in the next three years to grab 10% of the market," he said.

     
  14.  
    RBS FINE 07:23:
    RBS pillar sign

    And there's more: "In the firms' own mystery shopping there were examples of advisers giving personal views on the future movement of interest rates," says the FCA. "This was highly inappropriate and may have resulted in the borrower being sold the wrong type of mortgage for them."

     
  15.  
    RBS FINE 07:21:

    What did RBS do wrong? "Affordability assessments failing to consider the full extent of a customer's budget when making a recommendation, failing to advise customers who were looking to consolidate debt properly and not advising customers what mortgage term was appropriate for them," says the FCA.

     
  16.  
    FOXTONS 07:16:

    Foxtons, the London estate agency that put the F in flashy, has benefitted from the past year's surge in home sales. Its half-year earnings are up 16% to £73m, and its half-year profits jumped 57% to £23m. That's a huge profit margin. So much so that shareholders are getting a special half year dividend on top of the normal one - £13m in all.

     
  17.  
    RBS FINE 07:14:

    The FCA's statement on RBS's failings on mortgage advice include some gems: "The firms [RBS and NatWest] failed to ensure that advice given to customers was suitable. Two reviews of sales from 2012 found that in over half the cases the suitability of the advice was not clear from the file or call recording." This was happening two years ago.

     
  18.  
    RBS FINE

    The Financial Conduct Authority confirms it has fined RBS and NatWest £15m for failures in their mortgage advice process.

     
  19.  
    RYANAIR BUSINESS 07:04:
    Ryanair poster

    Ryanair is pitching for business travellers. It says it will offer them free flight changes in future, as well as a 20kg checked-in bag allowance. But to get this they will need to pay almost £60 to join the Ryanair Business Plus club, via www.ryanair.com/en/business-plus. You need to put in all your details before it will tell you any more about it.

     
  20.  
    SALMON SANCTIONS 06:44:
    Fish on plate

    News from Norway. Marine Harvest, the world's largest salmon farmer, is warning that Russian sanctions will present it with some short-term challenges. Meantime, the company reports operational earnings of 1.22bn crowns (£120m), nearly double last year's figure.

     
  21.  
    RBS FINE 06:30: BBC Radio 4

    Richard Jeffrey of Cazenove Capital Management tells listeners to the Today programme that the impending fine for RBS over poorly sold mortgages is "disappointing". But he says we shouldn't beat up the banks too much as it is essential that confidence in the banking system is maintained.

     
  22.  
    SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE 06:23:

    The Scotsman letter says business is worried about - yes, the pound - and the EU and tax and pensions. There are of course some industries that are warmer towards independence - the airlines for one. Remember Willie Walsh of BA said independence could be positive for the country and Ryanair backed the SNP's plans to cut air passenger duty.

     
  23.  
    CPP 06:13: Radio 5 live

    Sarah Pennells of SavvyWoman.com has been on Wake up to Money, telling us that this Saturday is the deadline for millions of people to claim compensation for being mis-sold unnecessary credit card insurance, or identity protection policies, by the company CPP. Around seven million people are thought to have been mis-sold this "insurance" over the years. But so far only 1.7 million have lodged a claim.

     
  24.  
    SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE 06:05:
    Oil rig

    More than 130 businesses have signed a letter saying the business case for Scottish independence "has not been made". The signatories come from a variety of businesses including banking, mining, engineering, food, whisky, and technology. The letter is published in today's Scotsman newspaper.

     
  25.  
    06:01: Ian Pollock Business reporter, BBC News

    We are expecting the formal announcement that RBS is being fined £15 million for giving poor mortgage advice.

     
  26.  
    06:00: Rebecca Marston Business reporter, BBC News

    Morning. Looks like we're in for a busier day than yesterday - let's hope so. Stay with us here on Business Live 'til 13:00 for the pick of the news.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.