Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is “now considering several timetables” for its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange following the escalation of anti-government protests in the city, Reuters reports. The protests even forced a shutdown of the city’s airport this week.
Alibaba — which has prominent ties to the Mainland Chinese government — has gone silent on the subject of the listing, which is expected to be the world’s largest in 2019. “How do you think Beijing feels about giving Hong Kong a $15 billion gift like this right now?,” one “capital markets professional” told the news agency. According to Reuters sources, the listing — which was initially estimated to raise as much as $20 billion U.S. — is now more likely to raise $10-$15 billion U.S.
Bloomberg reports that searches for “umbrellas, masks and helmets” on Alibaba’s generalist marketplace Taobao aren’t returning results for Hong Kong users. This comes as Alibaba toes the Chinese state line on abetting what Beijing has referred to as “terrorism.”
The company chose New York over Hong Kong in 2014 because the latter’s rules wouldn’t allow Alibaba’s dual-class share structure that gave company founders and insiders more control over the company. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing — the company that runs the Hong Kong stock exchange — has since changed those rules, paving the way for Alibaba’s secondary listing.
The company’s largest shareholder SoftBank booked a pretax profit of more than $11 billion U.S. for selling part of its stake in Alibaba in June, completing a deal announced three years ago. SoftBank still holds about 26% of Alibaba after the deal.