International investors definitely want a slice of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., helping the upcoming secondary listing rank as one of the biggest initial public offerings in 2019.
The Chinese retail and tech conglomerate on Wednesday priced its shares at 176 Hong Kong dollars ($180). The plan is to sell 500 million shares, raising at least 88 billion Hong Kong dollars ($11.3 billion). The over-allotment option for underwriters to sell an additional 75 million shares is expected to be exercised, which will bring the raise to 101.20 billion Hong Kong dollars ($12.9 billion).
The raise will likely be surpassed by the slated December IPO of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant, which is expected to raise up to $25.6 billion in a listing on the Saudi Stock Exchange in Riyadh. At $25.6 billion, that IPO would also eclipse Alibaba’s 2014 blockbuster IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, which raised a then-record $21.8 billion on the first day of trading.
A listing ceremony is planned for Tuesday at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the day the Hong Kong shares will begin trading.
Given the pro-democracy protests and social unrest roiling Hong Kong since March, and their impact on tourism and the local economy in a recession, Alibaba’s listing is expected to provide a boost to the financial markets.
Reuters first reported that Alibaba will close its order books to institutional investors early because of strong demand for the new Alibaba shares.
Alibaba shares will continue trading on the New York Stock Exchange, considered the “primary listing venue,” according to a regulatory filing in the U.S. with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week. With the pricing at 176 Hong Kong dollars ($22.50), about eight Hong Kong shares will equal the value of one U.S.-listed share, which is currently trading in the $182-a-share range.