Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the Chinese e-commerce giant founded by Jack Ma, is planning to raise as much as $24 billion in what will be the largest-ever offering of public stock, according to its filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company set the estimated price range of its shares at $60 to $66, which at the high end values Alibaba at $163 billion, bigger than the current market caps of eBay ($68 billion), Amazon ($161 billion) and just short of Intel ($173 billion). The offering could ultimately price higher than the range, as was the case with both Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).
Alibaba will trade under the ticker symbol "BABA" on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO is expected in September, with the date not yet announced.
Most of its major shareholders plan to hang on to their stock. Founder and chairman Ma will reduce his stake to 7.8 percent from 8.8 percent; Japanese telecommunications holding company Softbank Corp. plans to reduce its stake to 32.4 percent from 34.1 percent. Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) will raise significant cash from the IPO, cutting its holdings to 16.3 percent from 22.4 percent and raising about $9.5 billion at the middle of the pricing range.
Alibaba is a conglomerate of Chinese e-commerce businesses including Taobao.com, TMall.com, and payments platform Alipay. Unlike Amazon, Alibaba does not have inventory or warehouses; rather, it provides a platform that connects buyers and sellers. Its marketplaces transacted $296 billion in sales in 2013, according to the filing. Its mission, according to its prospectus, is to "make it easy to do business anywhere."