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Alibaba Shares Leap on Hong Kong Trading Debut

Shares in e-commerce giant Alibaba surged by more than 5% in early Tuesday trading on the Hong Kong Stock Market. It was the first day that Alibaba stock could be traded in the Asian financial capital following a secondary listing and share sale that raised about $12 billion.

After reaching an early high of more than HK$189, the price had settled back to HK$188.1 by the lunchtime trading break. That represents a gain of 6.9% compared with the HK$176 price ($22.48) at which the new shares were offered.

Alibaba equity is already listed in New York, where one American Depositary Receipt is equivalent to eight shares. The ADRs closed Monday night at US$190.45 apiece, for a market capitalization of $509 billion.

Asian financial media have reported that the share issue was strongly supported by onshore Chinese financial institutions and by other finance companies in Asia. For many of these, trading in the Hong Kong-listed shares is easier than dealing in the synthetic ADR product in North America. Although China maintains capital controls on money flows, there is a direct link between Hong Kong and mainland stock exchanges that allows two-way buying and selling.

Alibaba’s chief financial officer, Maggie Wu was quoted by the Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post as saying: “The global offering in Hong Kong was very successful, with a wide range of investors buying the shares. We see two groups of investors as a buying force in the international offering. They are mainland institutional investors and fund houses, and large global investors, including from the Asia-Pacific region.”

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