Last year I wrote that Hong Kong is increasingly becoming a destination for tech IPOs, and the country just got a major boost after Alibaba chairman Jack Ma said the company is exploring the possibility of listing one or more of its affiliate businesses on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
The Chinese e-commerce giant famously snubbed Hong Kong in favor of a record $25 billion listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Now that the HKEX is adjusting its rules to allow for dual-class shares — an omission that prompted Alibaba to go to New York — Ma admitted it has become a viable destination.
“We will consider listings in Hong Kong for Alibaba subsidiaries but we have not decided yet which one,” Ma told Bloomberg in an interview.
The most obvious candidate for HKEX would be Ant Financial, the financial services and payments affiliate valued at over $60 billion. Ant has long been linked with a Hong Kong IPO, but equally others including local commerce platform Koubei and $7.7 billion-valued logistics unit Cainiao could be outside bets.
Gaming hardware firm Razer and Tencent’s China Literature e-book unit were two successful tech listings in Hong Kong last year.
Alibaba is familiar with Hong Kong having gone public there in 2007 when it raised some $1.5 billion. More than a decade later, the firm is valued at a colossal $488 billion with ventures across commerce, payments, logistics, the cloud and more. It’s also expanded its reach outside of China and into India, Southeast Asia and other parts of Asia.