Exclusive: Alibaba decides against Hong Kong IPO, not yet committed to other exchange - CEO
By Paul Ingrassia and Don Durfee
HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has decided not to list its shares in Hong Kong, but has not yet committed to listing on any other exchange, including the New York Stock Exchange, CEO Jonathan Lu told Reuters on Thursday.
The company, founded in 1999 by billionaire Jack Ma, had planned to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange in an IPO analysts and bankers have said could raise up to $15 billion.
Alibaba failed to convince Hong Kong regulators to waive rules over the group's unique partnership structure - specifically that 28 partners, mainly founders and senior executives, would keep control over a majority of the board, even though they own only around 13 percent of the company.
"We've decided not to list in Hong Kong," Lu said in an interview at the company's headquarters in China's Hangzhou city in Zhejiang province. "The Hong Kong authorities need time to study this corporate governance structure (for knowledge-based companies)."
In his first public comment on Alibaba abandoning Hong Kong for the IPO, Lu added the company had not yet committed to list on any other exchange, including the New York Stock Exchange.
Alibaba, whose platforms handle more goods in a year than EBay Inc and Amazon.com Inc combined, expects to nearly triple the volume of transactions on its marketplaces to about 3 trillion yuan ($490 billion) in 3-4 years from 2012, eventually surpassing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
"In three years we hope to be the No. 1 retail network in the world - larger than Wal-Mart," Lu added.
(Additional reporting by Elzio Barreto; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)
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