Chinese online retail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) yesterday surged as it drew back the curtain on a Hong Kong listing that the firm described as a vote of confidence in the embattled territory.
The long-delayed trading day got off to a glitzy start with chief executive officer Daniel Zhang (張勇) joined on stage at a stock-exchange ceremony by dignitaries including Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan (陳茂波) and former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華).
Soon after the gong was sounded, Asia’s most valuable company soared almost 8 percent, a bright start after a blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) that raised at least US$11 billion, making it the territory’s biggest in nearly a decade.
“On the occasion of [Alibaba’s] 20th anniversary, we have ushered in an important milestone, which is to come home, come back to Hong Kong for listing,” Zhang said at the ceremony as crowds clapped and cheered.
The listing comes as a major boost to Hong Kong, which has been wracked by months of sometimes violent protests and US-China trade tensions, sending the economy into recession.
In a sign of the tensions that still permeate the territory after some of the worst violence of the unrest, riot police were stationed yesterday outside of the exchange.
Alibaba listed at HK$176 — below an HK$188 indicative ceiling originally announced — but briefly hit a high of HK$189.50 in mid-morning business. The stock pared the gains to end the day at HK$187.50, up 6.5 percent.
With 500 million shares offered to investors, the company raised HK$88 billion (US$11.24 billion) in the IPO, the highest since AIA Group Ltd garnered US$20.5 billion in 2010. If it chooses to use an over-allotment option to sell a further 75 million shares, it could bring in HK$101.2 billion.
The introduction of Alibaba could prove a boon for the exchange, which has had a torrid year that also saw it forced to drop a US$40 billion takeover bid for the prized London Stock Exchange Group PLC, which would have created a global markets titan, observers have said.
“The return of Alibaba, especially the return of new economic leaders, along with already locally listed, highly successful large companies such as Tencent, will certainly paint a new, beautiful picture for the Hong Kong capital market,” Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd chief executive officer Charles Li (李小加) said.
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