The big one is finally here. Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has filed for an initial public offering in New York that some estimate could reap up to $20-billion ( U.S.) later this year.
If that comes to pass, the Alibaba listing would be the largest technology IPO of all time, knocking Facebook's 2012 listing out of the top slot. It would also be the biggest U.S. IPO in history and the fourth-largest worldwide.
With such a massive listing, it's only natural to ask: Who benefits?
Start with the underwriters. Six global banks are handling the deal: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. They are expected to earn a base fee of 1 per cent of the proceeds, plus a further 1 per cent in incentive fees once the listing is completed, the Wall Street Journal reports (the back of the envelope calculation: that's a possible $400-million split between the banks).
Those fee percentages are actually low compared to most other major IPOs, but the competition to land a deal of Alibaba's size – and possible historic impact – was intense.
One major question mark still to be resolved is which exchange will have the honour of hosting Alibaba's shares. In its filing on Tuesday, the company declined to say whether it intends to trade on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq and instead left both possibilities open.
The main group poised to cash in on the IPO is, of course, the current owners of Alibaba. Tuesday's filing was somewhat instructive in this regard. Japan's SoftBank, for instance, which first invested in the firm back in 2000, owns 34.4 per cent of Alibaba's ordinary shares. Yahoo made a strategic investment in 2005 and currently owns 22.6 per cent. Jack Ma, who founded the company in 1999, holds 8.9 per cent of the company. Joseph Tsai, the company's executive vice-chairman, owns 3.6 per cent.