Alibaba shares reach record $68 in IPO

<p>Chinese e-commerce giant has increased the price range of its IPO to $68 each.</p>

Alibaba Group Holding has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $68 (£42) a share, raising $21.8 billion, indicating strong investor appetite for the Chinese e-commerce giant.

With trading starting on the New York Stock Exchange later today (September 19th), that price would give Alibaba a market valuation of $167.6 billion in one of the largest IPO ever.

"I’d put them (Alibaba) in a class of Facebook and Google with the scale they have, growth prospects and profitability," Scot Wingo, chief executive officer of e-commerce software provider ChannelAdvisor, told Reuters. "There’s a scarcity value there."

The final amount raised from the sale could change, depending on the final allotment allocation. If underwriters exercise an option to sell more shares, the money raised could increase to $25 billion.

Founder Jack Ma has said that the company would spread its business aggressively into the US and Europe following its listing.

Alibaba is selling 123.1 million of the 320.1 million shares in the IPO. Meanwhile, selling shareholders, including Mr Ma, Yahoo and executive vice chairman Joe Tsai, are offering the rest, the BBC reports.

In Alibaba’s latest earnings report, sales in the second quarter rose 46 per cent to $2.54 billion, and net income nearly tripled to $1.99 billion from the year prior. Alibaba accounts for 80 per cent of all online retail sales in China.

The company's first business was alibaba.com, set up in 1999, which helps to connect exporters in China with companies around the world.

It also owns taobao.com, China's largest shopping website, and tmall.com, which offers a wide selection of branded goods to China's emerging middle class. In addition, Alibaba runs the online payment system alipay.com.

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