Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba files for US public offering

Alibaba is not a household name in the West - yet

The Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has filed for an ambitious initial public offering in the US.

The move is "an embrace of the global capital markets that represents a coming of age for the booming Chinese internet industry," according to The New York Times' DealBook.

Alibaba filed with intent to raise $1 billion (about £588m, AU$1.07b) in the IPO, but it's expected to ultimately raise $15 billion (about £8.83b, AU$16b) to $20 billion (about £11.8b, AU$21.4b), which could make it the largest initial offering since Facebook's $16 billion opening day in 2012.

In addition the company is expected to be valued at around $200 billion (about £117b, AU$213b), higher than Facebook, Amazon and eBay but smaller than Google and Apple.

A big move

Alibaba is relatively unknown in the Western world, and its IPO will give it more exposure while also giving investors a chance to grab onto some of China's growth.

In China Alibaba runs sites and services analogous to companies like eBay and Paypal. In 2013 all the merchandise sold on Alibaba totaled $248 billion (about £146b, AU$265b), according to DealBook, which is higher than eBay and Amazon's intake combined.

And compare Alibaba's 45% profit margin last year with eBay's 17.8%, possible thanks to the Chinese company's low operation costs and low taxes.

The company's two largest investors currently are Japan's Softbank, with 34.4%, and Yahoo, with 22.6% (though Yahoo will sell its shares down to 13.6% when the IPO hits). But Alibaba's unique structure, in which a partnership of 28 individuals control everything, reportedly prevents it from listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

It's not yet clear whether Alibaba will debut on NYSE or NASDAQ, but trading could begin in a matter of months. The SEC just needs to review the company's filing.

Meanwhile Alibaba will continue to target the Chinese market, where it said in its IPO filing still only 45% of people use the internet and just 49% of customers shop online.

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.