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Alibaba Drops Plans for Hong Kong Listing

Paul Ausick

China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, has dropped plans to file for an initial public offering (IPO) valued at more than $60 billion on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company now is expected to file for a listing in New York in 2014.

The Financial Times cites unnamed sources who say that the company could not reach an agreement with the Hong Kong exchange over Alibaba management’s attempt to retain the right to nominate a majority of the company’s board. U.S. companies like Google Inc. (GOOG) and others have adopted a dual-class stock structure that allows founders and executives to retain control by giving more voting rights to one class of stock that is not made available for public sale.

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Hong Kong rules do not permit this dual-class structure, and the paper's sources say the exchange is unlikely to change its rules to accommodate Alibaba. The company’s chief executive officer and other executives own about 10% of Alibaba’s shares.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) owns about 24% of Alibaba after selling half its original stake back to the Chinese company for $7.1 billion last year. About $800 million of the sale price was paid in preferred stock in Alibaba.

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Alibaba has not indicated whether it will list on the NYSE or the Nasdaq, and the two exchanges are sure to go toe-to-toe for the listing.

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