Alibaba shares up 7 per cent in Hong Kong market debut

Alibaba Group's Hong Kong shares closed their first trading session up 6.6 per cent from the issue price after this year's largest stock sale.

Shares worth Hong Kong $13.99 billion (Dh6.53bn) were traded, according to Refinitiv data, making it the third biggest debut on record for the Hong Kong market. Alibaba is already the fifth most-traded company in New York this year, averaging $2.6bn a day, the data showed.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has raised at least $11.3 billion (Dh41.5bn) from the secondary listing, which has been seen as a vote of confidence in Hong Kong amid six months of sometimes violent anti-government protests.

That amount could climb to as much as $12.9bn if Alibaba chooses to exercise an overallotment option within 30 days of the start of trade.

Alibaba shares closed at HK$187.60 which was 6.6 per cent higher than the issue price of HK$176 per share.

The Hong Kong and New York stocks are fungible, which means investors can buy and sell the same shares on either exchange and that pricing on the exchanges are unlikely to diverge too far from each other. On Monday its US American Depository Shares (ADS) closed at $190.45. With eight Hong Kong shares per ADS, that implied a price of HK$186.30 per share.

UOB Kay Hian sales director Steven Leung said the premium to New York reflected the willingness of investors in the city and Asia to take on the stock of a company they know well but added that the positive momentum could be tough to maintain.

"The ADS is already considered quite high and now the Hong Kong price is showing a premium, so the near term upside in Hong Kong could be limited," he said.

Alibaba's Hong Kong listing surpassed other large stock sales this year, ranking before Uber Technologies $8.1 billion IPO and $5.7 billion IPO for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Asian brewing business in Hong Kong.

At Tuesday’s listing ceremony, CEO Daniel Zhang noted the Hong Kong debut had been a long time coming.

Alibaba had hoped to initially list in Hong Kong, but eventually chose New York for its record-breaking $25 billion initial public offering in 2014 after its unusual governance structure failed to win acceptance from Hong Kong regulators.

The loss of the listing triggered years of argument and consultations that resulted in rule changes last year.

"Thank you Hong Kong and thank you HKEX. Your reform and innovation of the capital markets in the past few years has made it possible for us to realise what we missed five years ago," Zhang said at the listing ceremony.

Alibaba is the fifth most-traded company in New York this year, averaging $2.6 billion a day, according to Refinitiv.

In its prospectus, Alibaba said it would use the funds raised to increase its investment in online delivery and local services platform and in online travel group Fliggy.

Alibaba also plans to spend more on developing Youku, one of the leading online video platforms in China.

Small retail investors were enthusiastic buyers of the deal, subscribing for 40 times the shares they were originally allotted and eventually taking 10 per cent of the deal.

Updated: November 26, 2019 06:48 PM