Alibaba boosts IPO as demand strengthens

Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:38pm EDT
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By Elzio Barreto, Fiona Lau and Liana B. Baker

HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N] raised the price range on its initial public offering to $66 to $68 on Monday, reflecting strong demand from investors for the year's most anticipated debut and potentially the world's largest-ever IPO.

The Chinese e-commerce company, which handles more transactions than Inc (AMZN.O: Quote) and eBay Inc (EBAY.O: Quote) combined, has attracted investors keen to buy into the country's rapid growth and its evolving Internet sector.

The company and selling shareholders will now raise almost $22 billion at the top of the new IPO range. Alibaba remains on track to set an IPO record if underwriters exercise an option to sell additional shares to meet demand, overtaking Agricultural Bank of China Ltd's (601288.SS: Quote) $22.1 billion listing in 2010.

Alibaba embarked on its roadshow for the IPO last week and attracted enough demand to cover its entire deal within two days, people familiar with the process said last week. Trading is expected to kick off this week.

The company and some shareholders previously offered 320.1 million American depositary shares at an initial $60 to $66 indicative range. It raised the price on Monday but left the number of shares unchanged.

Alibaba can still decide to price its IPO above the indicated range. But a source close to the deal told Reuters the final level will be "investor-friendly."

"Demand has been overwhelming since the launch," said the person, who couldn't be named because details of the IPO aren't yet public. "Increasing the price range was already on the cards from the beginning."

Reuters reported on Friday that Alibaba plans to close its IPO order book early, after it received enough orders to sell all the shares in the record-breaking offering.   Continued...

People walk at the headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Chance Chan