Dimon, other Wall St. titans make time for Ma ahead of Alibaba IPO

Fri Jun 7, 2013 7:05am EDT
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By Denny Thomas

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The most anticipated IPO since Facebook has attracted lawyers, bankers and potential investors, showering China's Alibaba with attention ahead of a stock offering that some say could exceed $15 billion.

And in what has become standard practice for large Chinese transactions, Wall Street CEOs have dropped-by to say hello to Alibaba founder and Chairman Jack Ma over the past few weeks.

J.P. Morgan (JPM.N: Quote) CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon met with Ma during a China trip this week, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. The two shook hands during the brief encounter, a second source said.

Last month Citigroup (C.N: Quote) CEO Michael Corbat met Ma as part of an Asia-wide trip, according to person familiar with the matter.

Top bankers are being flown in from New York and other banking headquarters, banking sources say, to get in front of Ma and his management team as the company prepares for a long-awaited public offering.

At stake for the banks are tens of millions of dollars in fees if they are chosen as an underwriter, plus the bragging rights to having worked on one of the largest internet listings.

China's e-commerce giant has yet to officially acknowledge the IPO plans or outline a timetable for the deal, though Ma himself has dropped several public hints that it's coming.

Hedge fund manager Carl Huttenlocher, founder of Myriad Asset Management Ltd, estimates Alibaba could command a valuation of $150-200 billion by the second half of 2014.   Continued...

Alibaba founder Jack Ma gestures during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Taobao Marketplace, China's largest consumer-focused e-commerce website, in Hangzhou, May 10, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily