Alibaba delayed its long-awaited $15 billion IPO in Hong Kong amid the pro-democracy protests that are currently happening in the Asian financial hub, for the 11th week now. After the announcement, the stocks on the NYSE fell 0.6% to $177.21.
Sources familiar with the situation said that they could launch their IPO already in October considering that protests come at ease and the market outlook improves. If that happens, they will still try to raise around $10 to $15 billion.
The decision of postponing the deal came at a board meeting last week. Previously, the deal had been noted to happen in August, but due to the lack of financial and political stability and demonstrations that have put the city into turmoil, it’s decided the best thing is to wait.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index fell to seven-month lows last week and one person familiar with this situation said that “it would be very unwise to launch the deal now or anytime soon”. The source added that it would probably annoy Beijing by offering Hong Kong such a big gift given what’s going on in the city.
However, it seems that pro-democracy protests are not showing some real signs of coming to an end soon. Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people marched through the city in one of the biggest marches ever.
Alibaba’s proposed stock market listing is meant to be one of the largest share sales this year and has been meant to act as a measure of Hong Kong’s strength compared to western financial centers, especially New York.
The company is already listed on the New York Stock Exchange but filed for a second listing in Hong Kong in June. The Hong Kong Exchange has been constantly lingering behind its New York rival so this would mean a huge thing.
All eyes are now turned to Alibaba because it will come as a resurrection to traders that may have been disappointed with previous market performances. In July this year, Anheuser-Busch InBev canceled a planned up to $9.8 billion Hong Kong IPO of its Asia Pacific unit and then analysts agreed that this won’t be bad for investors as long as Alibaba goes to Hong Kong.
Last week, Alibaba reported revenues soared 42 percent to 115bn yuan in its latest quarter compared to a year earlier, despite slowing Chinese economic growth.
Earlier this year, Altaba, the Yahoo offshoot holding the company’s stake in Alibaba, said they’re planning to sell up to their entire 11% stake. Normally, Alibaba would like that to be done before it comes out to Hong Kong market in order of stabilizing its U.S. trading volumes before investors adjust to the two prices that would be available following a Hong Kong listing.
Sources said that the Altaba sale has been completed, but no official response yet has been announced.
However, this delay could come beneficial for some companies. Connie Gu, a tech analyst at BOCOM International says that the postponing could benefit rival Chinese tech stocks such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and Meituan Dianping if it meant investors would hold off withdrawing their money from those companies getting ready for investing in Alibaba’s Hong Kong listing.
The truth is, the city wants to have Chinese tech giants as close as possible so last year it has liberated some rules allowing companies with large market values to have different voting rights for individuals that have crucial roles. Alibaba could now be the first one who will test the new system.
Kenny Tang, chief executive of investment firm Royston Securities Hong Kong claims Hong Kong is still the best place for Alibaba to list because the city’s financial market is more open and international than other exchanges in the region.