China's Alibaba Could Go Public in April With $153 Billion Valuation (Report)

Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba
Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba
 

Alibaba, China's biggest e-commerce company, is expected to go public as early as next month at what could be a value of $153 billion, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

An initial pubic offering of that magnitude could put about $37 billion in the coffers of Yahoo, which was an early investor in Alibaba. On Friday, shares of Yahoo were up 1 percent to $36.60, giving the firm a market capitalization of $38 billion.

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Alibaba is leaning toward listing its shares in the U.S., Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources close to the situation. The IPO has been code-named "Avatar."

Alibaba was founded by Jack Ma, an English teacher who started the company by selling two dozen items from his Hangzhou apartment 15 years ago. Ma, 49, is now worth about $11 billion and is one of the richest men in China.

The company is said to prefer the U.S. over a listing in Hong Kong because of less stringent regulations that would allow Ma and the current management team to retain more control over the company.

Bloomberg noted that if Alibaba is worth $153 billion, it will be valued at 23 times annual sales, much richer than eBay (4.6 times sales) or Amazon.com (2.3 times sales). The discrepancy is presumably due to Alibaba's potential, given it is a fast-growing company in China, the world's most populated country and an emerging, economic powerhouse.

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