NEW YORK, September 19- Chinese online retail giant Alibaba is poised for a record breaking stock market debut on Friday, with shares priced at $68 in a public offering that could be valued at $25 billion.
The company will step into the spotlight on the New York Stock Exchange, priced at the top of the $66-$68 per share range announced earlier this week, according to documents filed with US regulators.
The amount raised by the initial public offering (IPO) would be $25.02 billion if options are exercised for additional demand, breaking the 2010 record of China’s AgBank of $22.1 billion.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma was expected to ring the opening bell on Wall Street for the market debut, according to persons familiar with the IPO.
Alibaba would have a market value of around $168 billion based on the price, making it bigger than Amazon.
The IPO will also create instant Silicon Valley-style millionaires among Alibaba’s employees in China, as the company emulated other tech firms like Microsoft and Google in handing out stock to employees at all levels.
Before the IPO, around 6,000 current and former employees of Alibaba and affiliates owned nearly $8 billion in stock, according to company IPO documents.
Over the years many more shares were given to employees who have already cashed out.
Ma had asked its employees to be prepared for the changes this IPO could bring along and warned of possible challenges.
“We’ve worked hard, but not just so we could turn into a bunch of tuhao,” Ma reportedly said in an internal letter sent to its employees in late July, referring to a Chinese expression of “new money”.
– International ambitions –
The IPO allows investors to get a piece of the huge Chinese market, but it also will fuel Alibaba’s international ambitions.
Alibaba’s consumer services are similar to a mix of those offered by US Internet titans eBay, PayPal and Amazon, and it also operates services for wholesalers.
It is known for the giant Chinese online marketplace Taobao, among other services.
The company earlier this year announced plans for a US marketplace called 11 Main, which is currently in a test phase.
Alibaba Group made a profit of nearly $2 billion on revenue of $2.5 billion in the quarter ending June 30. Revenue rose 46 percent from the same period a year earlier.