Hong Kong counts the cost after losing Alibaba listing

Hong Kong counts the cost after losing Alibaba listing

HONG KONG - The collapse of negotiations for Alibaba's listing in Hong Kong, which sees the lucrative initial public offering set to head to New York, has prompted sharp criticism of the city's stock exchange from the Chinese online trading giant and some investors.

Talks between the Hong Kong bourse and Alibaba, looking at ways to grant founder Jack Ma and its senior management some control over the board of directors ended in vain, according to a blog post by Alibaba's co-founder Joe Tsai on Thursday.

In a scathing attack on the exchange's regulators, he warned that the world's largest companies would "pass by" Hong Kong unless its bourse was more willing to be flexible.

"We firmly believe that Hong Kong must consider what is needed in order to adapt to future trends and changes," Tsai said on his blog.

"The question Hong Kong must address is whether it is ready to look forward as the rest of the world passes it by."

However others welcomed the move as a sign the Hong Kong stock exchange was willing to stick by its own rules despite the potential size of the listing.

Hong Kong's loss will likely be New York's gain. Dow Jones Newswires, quoting a source, said Wednesday the company now plans to list in the American city, has already hired a US law firm to work on an IPO there, and would likely hire banks soon.

The company's stock market listing is expected to raise about US$10 billion (S$12 billion), which would make it the technology industry's largest IPO since Facebook's offering last year.

Tanrich Securities vice president Jackson Wong believes Hong Kong is losing out from an investor's perspective.

"We really would like to see a giant Internet stock from China to be listed in Hong Kong, rather than in New York," Wong told AFP, describing any listing by the company to be a "blockbuster IPO".

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