Alibaba will ‘seriously consider’ Hong Kong listing, says founder Ma

Alibaba Group Holding LTD will “seriously consider” listing in Hong Kong, founder Jack Ma said, potentially providing a powerful boost to the financial hub which is preparing to allow dual-class share listings.

Ma made the comments at an event in the city on Monday in response to remarks made by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam about how she hoped Alibaba would consider returning to Hong Kong to list, an Alibaba spokeswoman said.

“Daring to speak like this marks a strong commitment so we will definitely seriously consider the Hong Kong market,” Ma said in response to Lam’s speech, according to a transcript provided by Alibaba.

The Alibaba spokeswoman said there were no further details available on what any Hong Kong listing plan could involve.

Alibaba held its record $25 billion public float in New York in 2014 after Hong Kong, its favoured venue, refused to accept its governance structure where a self-selecting group of senior managers control the majority of board appointments.

Hong Kong is now set to allow dual-class shares under rule changes to be proposed by the city’s stock exchange as it raises the stakes in its battle against New York for blockbuster Chinese initial public offerings. Such shares grant differentiated voting rights and underpin the alternative governance and shareholding structures favoured by many owners of new age industries such as technology.

Over $3 billion worth of Alibaba shares were traded on Monday, based on Reuters calculations using NASDAQ data. The stock closed at $190.33, with 16.23 million shares traded.

That compares with the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd’s(HKEX) average daily securities turnover of HK$88.2 billion ($11.28 billion) in 2017.