Sat, May 26, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Alibaba cleared to privatize unit after shareholder vote

Bloomberg

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) won approval to take a Hong Kong-traded unit private, simplifying its structure as it prepares to repurchase a US$7.1 billion stake from Yahoo Inc before an eventual IPO.

More than 95 percent of votes cast by Alibaba.com Ltd shareholders at a ballot in Hong Kong yesterday supported the US$2.5 billion buyout offer from the parent, company secretary Elsa Wong (黃麗堅) said.

That was more than the 75 percent required to approve the transaction.

Alibaba Group, China’s biggest e-commerce company, said in February it would offer as much as HK$19.6 billion (US$2.5 billion) for shares it did not own in Alibaba.com, after profit at the unit declined.

The closely held Chinese parent company this week agreed to repurchase stock in itself from Yahoo in a deal that Alibaba chairman Jack Ma (馬雲) said might facilitate a future IPO.

“After the privatization, Alibaba.com’s business will probably be integrated with some of the parent’s other operations,” said Dundas Deng (鄧達斯), an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities in Shenzhen.

The reorganization would help Alibaba Group’s plans for an IPO, he added.

Earlier yesterday, Alibaba.com shares were suspended from trading. The shares were unchanged at HK$13.42 in Hong Kong trading on Thursday. The HK$13.50 a share buyout bid by the parent was 46 percent higher than Alibaba.com’s price when the stock was suspended on Feb. 9 pending the offer announcement.

Alibaba Group controls 73 percent of the shares in Alibaba.com, its e-commerce division that is focused on business owners.

The Hong Kong-traded shares fell 42 percent last year, when the company said it was changing its focus from adding customers to improving service for users. First-quarter profit this year fell 25 percent, as fewer Web site subscriptions were sold to exporters, the unit reported last month.

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