Alibaba's IPO Dilemma: Hong Kong or New York?
In April 2014, Alibaba's impending initial public offering (IPO) projected to be among the world's largest IPOs. Alibaba faced many choices regarding ownership structure, trading location, IPO pricing and IPO timing. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange seemed like a natural fit for its IPO due to geographical, cultural and language proximity. Furthermore, 86.7 per cent of Alibaba's revenues originated within China. However, Alibaba insisted on "partnership governance," and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange did not allow listing of companies with dual-class share structure. In contrast, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ did not object to Alibaba's proposed ownership structure. While the Hong Kong investors knew Alibaba's business better, the New York exchanges provided more liquidity and visibility. Against this backdrop, Alibaba needed to make difficult decisions regarding its IPO. Emir Hrnji is affiliated with National University of Singapore.