ING -, China's top e-commerce company, has released eight cornerstone investors from the original 2-year lock-up, allowing the immediate sale of a total of 157.8 million shares.

The early release, which came into effective from the close of trading on Thursday, was initiated by Alibaba to increase liquidity in its stock and enhance its attractiveness to institutional investors, it said in a statement on Thursday.

Alibaba shares have soared 97 percent since April, far outpacing the broader Hang Seng index .HSI.

...we hope that they will continue to find to have long-term investment value, Maggie Wu, Alibaba's chief financial officer, said in the statement.

The shares bought by the cornerstone investors represent 3.13 percent of the firm's total market capitalization.

The eight investors include: Yahoo! Inc., AIG Global Investment Corporation (Asia), Foxconn (Far East) Limited, Baldonna Investments, Finawood Investments, Honeybush Limit ed, Cisco Systems International, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) 1349.HK. ($=6.83 yuan)

(Reporting by Kirby Chien; Editing by Anshuman Daga)