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Alibaba to close books early in $13.4 billion Hong Kong listing after strong demand - sources

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By Reuters
Alibaba to close books early in $13.4 billion Hong Kong listing after strong demand - sources
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Alibaba Group is seen at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song   -   Copyright  ALY SONG(Reuters)

By Scott Murdoch

HONGKONG (Reuters) – Alibaba <BABA.N> will stop taking orders from prospective institutional investors for its $13.4 billion (£10.35 billion) secondary listing in Hong Kong earlier than expected after attracting strong demand, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Order books will now close on Tuesday at 12 p.m. in New York (1700 GMT), half a day earlier than initially planned by the Chinese e-commerce giant and its investment banking advisers.

The decision was made by the company on Monday, the sources said. The final price that institutional investors will pay will still be set by Wednesday evening Hong Kong time, based on Tuesday’s closing price in New York, they added.

The sources, who could not be named because the information has not yet been made public, also told Reuters that the order books are covered ‘multiple times’.

An Alibaba spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s decision to close the books early.

The listing is part of a year-end equity market rush which also includes the IPO of Saudi oil giant Aramco.

The price range set by Aramco on Sunday values the company at up to $1.7 trillion, below the $2 trillion sought by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.

But the valuation still keeps it in the running to become the world’s largest IPO, potentially topping Alibaba’s record $25 billion New York stock market debut in 2014 if there is enough demand to use an over-allotment option.

Alibaba’s stock is due to start trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on November 26, according to a prospectus lodged with New York regulators, with a listing ceremony scheduled for that day.

The stockmarket debut in Hong Kong comes as the Chinese-controlled city battles worsening violence on the streets in anti-government protests which have been ongoing for nearly six months.

More than 4000 people have been arrested during that time and China warned on Monday that the world should not under-estimate its will to protect Hong Kong from ‘criminals conducting violence against civilians’.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch; editing by Jason Neely and Kirsten Donovan)