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Alibaba picks CICC, Credit Suisse to lead Hong Kong offer: sources

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Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has picked China International Capital Corp (CICC) and Credit Suisse Group AG to lead a planned Hong Kong share sale, people familiar with the matter said.

[HONG KONG] Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has picked China International Capital Corp (CICC) and Credit Suisse Group AG to lead a planned Hong Kong share sale, people familiar with the matter said.

The online retailer is in discussions with other investment banks seeking a role on the offering, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Alibaba plans to file a formal listing application with the Hong Kong stock exchange as soon as the next few weeks, the people said.

The offering could raise as much as US$20 billion, though Alibaba hasn't finalised a precise fundraising target, the people said. A deal that size would be Hong Kong's largest share sale since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The transaction could bolster the city's status as a destination for Chinese tech listings and boost Alibaba's cash pile as it wages a costly war of subsidies with Meituan Dianping in food delivery and travel.

Alibaba's ADRs rose 3.6 per cent in US trading, the biggest gain since Jan 30.

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In the Hong Kong offering, the company will seek to preserve its existing governance structure, where a partnership of top executives has rights including the ability to nominate a majority of board members, one of the people said. Under new rules for secondary listings introduced by the Hong Kong bourse last year, the company can apply for an exemption to standard restrictions in the city that would bar that kind of setup.

Preparations are at an early stage, and details of the offering could change, the people said. Alibaba declined to comment in an emailed statement. Representatives for CICC and Credit Suisse also declined to comment.

Credit Suisse was the left-lead bank on Alibaba's 2014 US IPO, which raised a record US$25 billion. Alibaba also has an existing relationship with CICC, once dubbed "the Goldman Sachs of China" for its work bringing some of the country's biggest state-run firms to market. It owns 11.7 per cent of CICC's Hong Kong-traded shares, making Alibaba the second-biggest holder, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

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