Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) intends to raise as much as US$8 billion via a dollar bond sale as early as next week, matching its own Chinese record for a single issuance of offshore corporate debt, people familiar with the plans said.
The e-commerce giant aims to raise at least US$5 billion, but could wind up with more depending on reception, said the people, who asked not to be identified.
The deal is to be a multi-tranche offering, with specific tenors yet to be determined, they said.
Alibaba tapped the global debt market in 2014 for the first time to raise US$8 billion — a record that still stands — shortly after its landmark New York stock debut.
It last came to the offshore market with a bumper US$7 billion bond deal in 2017, and needs to repay or refinance about US$1.5 billion of dollar debt, which comes due this year, Bloomberg data show.
The upcoming likely mega offering would test global investors’ appetite for the first time since Beijing launched an antitrust investigation into the company cofounded by billionaire Jack Ma (馬雲).
It also comes as its revenue grew at its slowest pace on record for a September quarter, underscoring how the company’s post-pandemic rebound is starting to plateau.
“We view the issuance as somewhat exploratory given the broader uncertainty around Ant/Jack Ma. It may well reveal how seriously global investors perceive the rapidly evolving regulatory environment in China,” Chuanyi Zhou (周川藝), a credit analyst at Lucror Analytics in Singapore, said yesterday.
Zhou was referring to Ant Group Co (螞蟻集團), the fintech firm cofounded by Ma that saw its planned US$35 billion initial public offering halted by Chinese regulators in November last year.
Alibaba declined to comment.
The company, which sat on a cash hoard of almost US$90 billion at the end of September, has in recent years spent billions acquiring stakes in promising start-ups, expanding its logistics network and cloud-hosting services, and building up an international business via Singapore-based online mall Lazada.
It is now engaged in a bruising battle with Meituan Dianping (美團點評) in food delivery, while fending off rivals like JD.com Inc (京東) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) in businesses from groceries to retail.
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