Alibaba raised more than US$11 billion in the world’s biggest share offering this year when it launched on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
With riot police standing guard outside, Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang told an audience minutes before the Hong Kong market opened that Alibaba has “returned home to Hong Kong” to a large round of applause.
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“I want to especially thank Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. As a result of the continuous innovation and changes to the Hong Kong capital market, we are able to realise what we regrettably missed out on five years ago. Today, we realised what we said then: ‘When conditions allow, we will come back to Hong Kong,’” said Zhang.
Five years ago Alibaba raised US$25 billion in New York in what was the world’s biggest initial public offering. The secondary listing will make it easier for investors in China and in other parts of Asia to trade the shares.
Alibaba’s shares opened 6.25% higher at HK$187 (US$23.90), with the group raising HK$88bn (US$11.3bn). The city’s benchmark Hang Seng index gained 0.4%. Alibaba closed 6.7% higher at HK$187.60.
Dickie Wong, head of research at broker Kingston Securities, told the Financial Times that Alibaba’s Hong Kong debut was “slightly better than expected” and that the shares were a shoo-in for quick inclusion in stock connect programs that would allow investors in mainland China to trade them.
“This is definitely a must-have stock for the portfolio of a local investor,” he said.
Ten customers and partners launched Alibaba’s trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. They were from Taobao, Alipay, Alibaba Cloud, Fliggy, Lazada, Tmall and AliExpress, with backgrounds ranging from users, merchants, internet celebrities and IoT experts to entrepreneurs.
“On this important milestone, I want to thank our customers first and foremost. My gratitude goes to all the Alibaba consumers who have supported us over the past 20 years, standing by us through our trial and error, as well as innovation for the future. Today, we are honoured to have 10 customers and partners from across our Alibaba digital economy representing four continents and eight countries strike the gong at our listing ceremony, marking the start of our trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange,” said Zhang.
“We are also grateful for being a part of this era, which is driven by digital innovation. Through the development of the internet and digital economy, we have been granted the opportunity to fulfill our founding mission, ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere.’ We want to use digital technology to help our customers and partners embrace the era of the digital economy.”
Charles Li, CEO of Hong Kong’s stock exchange operator, welcomed Alibaba.
“After five years of travelling afar, (Alibaba has) decided to come home,” said Li. “Despite the difficulties and challenges in Hong Kong.”
Li added that the offering by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and online payments group, would bring other Chinese companies listed overseas back to Hong Kong.
“Ultimately they will come home. And we will be here, ready for them,” Li said.
The Hong Kong listing comes after Alibaba scored US$38 billion in another record-breaking sales day for its 11.11 Singles Day that the e-commerce business started a decade ago in China, using discounts within a 24-hour period as way to drive merchandise volume. The Chinese shopping “holiday” is far more successful than Black Friday and Cyber Monday merchandise sales in the US.