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Alibaba Resumes Plan for Hong Kong Listing in a Boost for the City

HONG KONG — Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, resumed plans to raise $10 billion or more in Hong Kong, giving the protest-wracked Asian financial capital a much-needed vote of confidence.

Alibaba in August postponed plans to reap $10 billion to $15 billion by selling shares in Hong Kong after worsening clashes between demonstrators and the police shook a territory long prized for its stability and rule of law. The move essentially revives those plans. The company expects the amount it hopes to raise may be closer to $10 billion, said a person familiar with the company’s plans, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were not yet public.

The deal could happen as soon as the end of this month, the person said. Alibaba executives are expected to appear in front of the listing committee of Hong Kong’s stock exchange after Singles Day, the Nov. 11 shopping holiday that the Chinese company created and that has become the world’s largest one-day sales event. The resumption was reported earlier by Reuters.

Hong Kong is a part of China that operates under its own laws, making it a critical bridge between the mainland and the rest of the world. For years multinational companies made the city their headquarters for the region because it offered access to China’s booming economy while ensuring legal protections and the free flow of information.

That reputation has been undermined by the demonstrations, which were prompted by the mainland government’s increasingly heavy hand in the territory’s affairs. The protests scared off tourists from mainland China and led companies and industry groups to move their conferences elsewhere. Clashes between demonstrators and the police sometimes filled busy shopping districts with tear gas and Molotov cocktails.

As a result, a city widely regarded as among the world’s friendliest toward business has seen commerce wilt. Hong Kong’s economy has fallen into recession for the first time since the global financial crisis a decade ago. It has also been hit by the trade war between the United States and China.

This summer, Hong Kong’s stock market gave up almost all its gains for the year, and a number of companies canceled their plans for initial public offerings there.

The protests have continued with few signs of abating. On Friday, anger grew after a college student died from injuries he sustained from a fall this week. The circumstances behind his injuries are murky, but some protesters speculated he was trying to flee the police and tear gas, which would make him the first person to die from the clashes.

Still, Hong Kong officials have increasingly denied permits for mass demonstrations, leading to smaller, scattered clashes throughout the city. Major businesses, schools and city services have continued to run, and many people in the city have settled into a sometimes surreal yet predictable routine.

Amid the standoff, signs of normalcy have returned in some areas. Hong Kong’s stock market is now up roughly 8 percent so far this year, though it still lags the performance of some others in Asia.

A Hong Kong listing would help Alibaba further its ambitions to offer a broad array of digital services in China and around the world. It competes heavily with other Chinese heavyweights, like the Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent and JD.com, a rival e-commerce company.

It could also help relations with China’s leaders. Alibaba listed its shares in New York five years ago in the world’s largest initial public offering. But a Hong Kong listing could bolster its image with Beijing, which wants to development and improve Chinese markets.

Alibaba has hired Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank, and China International Capital Corp., a major investment bank, said the person familiar with its plans. The person added that it expected several other banks to be involved, as well.


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