Alibaba share price increased as much as 7.7% during its first morning of trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Soon after the market opened, the shares climbed from their listing price of HKD $176 (a 2.9% discount from their closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday) to HKD $189.50.
Each of Alibaba’s American depositary receipts on the NYSE is equivalent to about eight Hong Kong shares. Alibaba issued 500 million new ordinary shares for the secondary offering, plus an overallotment option for 75 million shares that will allow it to raise even more money if exercised. Its Hong Kong shares are trading under the ticker number 9988, a play on the words for “long-term prosperity” in Chinese.
Alibaba’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 raised a total of $25 billion, making it the largest public offering in history. The company had initially considered holding its IPO in Hong Kong, but at the time, its stock exchange did not allow dual-class shares, a structure often used by tech startups because it allows holders of one class of shares to have more voting rights than common shareholders, ensuring companies continue to have control even after they go public.
Last year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange changed its rules to accommodate dual-class share, enabling tech companies, including Meituan and Xiaomi, to debut there.
In a press statement, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said “As a result of the continuous innovation and changes to the Hong Kong capital market, we are able to realize what we regrettably missed out on five years ago. Today, we realized what we said then: ‘When conditions allow, we will come back to Hong Kong.'”
Listing on Hong Kong will also make it easier for more Chinese investors to buy and sell Alibaba shares, once it is included in the Stock Connect, a collaboration between the Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.
This is not the first time Alibaba has had a presence on the Hong Kong stock market. In 2007, its B2B e-commerce platform, Alibaba.com, went public there, before the company took the unit private again in 2012.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong debut comes after months of tumultuous pro-democracy demonstrations (the stock exchange has stayed stable despite the protests), and the day after more than half the 452 seats up for vote in local district council elections flipped from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy candidates. Demonstrators have called for more transparency from the government and police, and the election results send a clear signal about public sentiment to chief executive Carrie Lam.