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Alibaba, Weibo Planning U.S. IPOs

Paul Ausick

Two of the most anticipated initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2014 are coming from Chinese Internet companies, and both appear headed for U.S. listings. Weibo Corp. on Friday filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a U.S. listing on the Nasdaq. Alibaba has not yet filed for a U.S. listing, but a filing is expected to as soon as next month.

Alibaba is China’s largest e-commerce site and has been compared to both Amazon.com (AMZN) and eBay Inc. (EBAY). It was number 1 on our list of the top 10 IPOs for this year. The Alibaba IPO has been in the works for years. The China-based e-commerce group offers business-to-business, online retail and processing services. Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) retains a 24% stake in Alibaba after selling part of its original 40% stake in the company. Japan’s SoftBank owns 37%.

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Alibaba is believed to be seeking at least $15 billion in an IPO based on a valuation of the company of $120 billion, according to a report in the Financial Times. Private trades of the company’s convertible bonds are the basis for the valuation estimate, the FT said. The IPO is coming to the U.S. because Hong Kong has refused to change its rules about dual-stock structures and how a company’s board of directors is appointed. Alibaba’s management wants to retain control over board appointments and the Hang Seng has refused to allow such a structure.

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Weibo is usually described as the Twitter of China. Sources told the FT that the company is seeking to raise $700 million, valuing the company at about $7 billion. The majority owner of Weibo is Sina Corp. (SINA). Alibaba owns an 18% stake in the company. According to the SEC filing, the official amount Weibo is seeking is $500 million, but the company hopes to be able to raise more.

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Weibo says it had 129.1 million monthly active users at the end of December. The company has also had a number of run-ins with the government for posts by some high-profile users that criticized China’s ruling party. Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse are lead underwriters for the IPO.

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