Alibaba proposes share split ahead of reported $20B Hong Kong IPO
Alibaba is being heavily linked with a public listing in Hong Kong, which could reportedly happen in Q3 and raise up to $20 billion. The firm is keeping quiet on those rumors, but it did let slip a major hint after it announced plans for a stock split.
Filings uploaded today (but originally released Friday) announced a proposal for a one-to-eight stock split.
Shareholders are invited to vote on the offer ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on July 15. The initiative has already been approved by Alibaba’s board, which is recommending that shareholders follow suit.
The particularly interesting part of the filing is where Alibaba explains the reasons behind the stock split.
“The Board of Directors is proposing the Share Subdivision to increase the flexibility for the Company in future capital market activities. Among other reasons, the one-to-eight share subdivision will increase the number of shares available for issuance at a lower per share price, and the Board of Directors believes that this will increase flexibility in the Company’s capital raising activities, including the issuance of new shares,” the filing reads.
That would appear to clear the way for a second listing for the company, which went public in a record U.S. IPO that raised more than $20 billion in 2014.
Alibaba declined to provide further comment when we asked.
Reports last week suggested that the Chinese e-commerce giant has already filed initial paperwork for the listing, which would become the largest such float on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The city has become a destination for Chinese tech IPOs since relaxed listing rules came into effect two years ago. Ironically, a lack of flexibility was cited as a key reason why Alibaba picked the U.S. over Hong Kong for its 2014 listing.
Tech firms that have gone public in Hong Kong include Razer, Xiaomi, Tencent’s China Literature and selfie app company Meitu. Despite the hype, some have been guarded of Hong Kong’s suitability for tech firms, which are often not profitable when listing. Indeed, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan previously warned that “the U.S. [public markets] are probably more cognizant of tech companies” than Hong Kong retail investors.