The bell tolls for Alibaba. Rings, rather. The Alibaba Group Ltd. has finally found a home for its imminent IPO, choosing to list with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) over rival market NASDAQ. China’s answer to Amazon, Alibaba accounts for more than 80% of all e-commerce in China, the worlds’ second-largest economy. So it’s no surprise that when the e-commerce giant finally rings the opening bell under the symbol “BABA,” it is expected to be the largest U.S. tech IPO in history, eclipsing Facebook’s $15 billion initial offering from 2012. Surpassing Facebook’s mark is a tall task, but it doesn’t seem so daunting when you realize just how huge Alibaba is: the e-commerce behemoth once did $5.75 billion in sales in just 24 hours. The company has also invested heavily in Chinese technology, with ownership stakes in many profitable businesses. The Alibaba IPO was not always destined for American shores. Initially looking to list with the Hong Kong market, the company spurned its home exchange, because the market was uncomfortable with the company’s management structure. At its core, Alibaba has a 27-member “partnership” that makes most decisions and nominates the majority of board members, which the Hong Kong exchange claimed violates its principle of one-share-one-vote. The org chart doesn’t seem to bother the NYSE, which is scoring another major win after landing Twitter Inc.’s IPO last year. While Twitter’s initial offering was wildly successful, the company’s stock has tumbled in recent months, losing more than half of its December 2013 value. Alibaba will undoubtedly be looking for more sustained results and given their foothold in China’s online commerce, they may well get it.
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