Alibaba, China's Internet behemoth

BEIJING - Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, which combines aspects of eBay, Amazon and PayPal, has filed documents for a US stock listing, widely expected to be one of the largest offerings in history.

Here is a fact-file about the Internet giant, which is led by Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma.

FOUNDING: Alibaba Group was founded in 1999 by 18 people led by Jack Ma.

WHY ALIBABA?: Ma chose the name because it is "easily pronounced in practically all languages" and because the "open sesame" catchphrase from 1,001 Nights signifies that the company's platforms "open a doorway to fortune for small businesses", the company's website says.

SIZE: A total of 20,000 people are employed by Alibaba, which has its headquarters in Hangzhou, Ma's home town in China's eastern province of Zhejiang. The company has 73 offices in mainland China and 16 overseas.

COMPONENTS:, China's most popular online consumer marketplace, and, a website for business-to-consumer transactions, are among several online platforms which operate within the Alibaba structure. It also has a payment unit, Alipay, which is not included within the IPO vehicle.

CUSTOMERS: Taobao has more than 800 million product listings and over 500 million registered users. It is estimated to have more than 90 per cent of China's online consumer-to-consumer market.

THE MARKET: China's online shoppers spent nearly 1.26 trillion yuan (S$250 billion) in 2012, up 66.5 per cent from the previous year, the semi-official China Internet Network Information Centre said in an April 2013 report.

POTENTIAL: China has the world's biggest online population and its annual online sales are forecast to reach between $420 billion and $650 billion by 2020. By then it will be the world's largest online retail market, consulting firm McKinsey estimates.