On September 19, 2014 U.S. Eastern Standard Time, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (“Alibaba”) began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “BABA”. A total of 320,106,100 American Depositary Shares (excluding green shoe) were offered and approximately US$21.8 billion proceeds were raised in the offering, making Alibaba’s IPO the biggest one in the history of the U.S. capital markets.
King & Wood Mallesons (“KWM”) acted as the PRC legal counsel for the six lead underwriters in Alibaba’s U.S. listing. From the kick-off to the filing of registration form with SEC, the roadshow and the successful listing, KWM lawyers participated in every stage of this milestone project and witnessed every important event of Alibaba’s U.S. listing process.
Alibaba is a leading e-commerce company and a model for globalization of Chinese companies. With a sound corporate governance structure, clear strategies and business development goals, Alibaba has attracted great interests from a significant number of U.S. and other international investors, a critical factor for Alibaba’s successful listing in the U.S.
As disclosed in the prospectus, Alibaba has an international team of directors and senior management members. Alibaba’s board of directors includes Jack Ma, who is already well-known to the world, and other members such as Joseph Tsai who is relatively low-key but also has extremely remarkable profile. Joseph Tsai received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and East Asian Studies from Yale College and a juris doctor degree from Yale Law School. He had extensive working experiences at a Wall Street law firm and an investment fund before he joined Alibaba in 1999 as a member of the Alibaba founding team. Under the leadership of Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai, Alibaba has assembled talented people of different professions from all over the world. Maggie Wu, Alibaba’s Chief Financial Officer, was an audit partner at KPMG before joining Alibaba. Timothy A. Steinert, Alibaba’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, was a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before joining Alibaba. After the joining of Masayoshi Son of Softbank, Jerry Yang of Yahoo, and Chee Hwa Tung, the former First Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as outside directors, Alibaba has become a truly international company with deep roots in China.
In addition, Alibaba has also expanded its business footprints into other countries. For example, Alibaba has made a number of overseas strategic investments, acquisitions and alliances since 2013, including its investment in Shoprunner, a logistics company in the US, Fanatics, an e-commerce website selling sports equipment in the US, Quixey, an apps search engine in the US, TangoMe, a leading mobile messaging services company in the US and Singapore Post Limited.
Global talents, international vision and strategies are all important to Alibaba’s successful cooperation with the six lead underwriters, its smooth communication with the U.S. regulator and productive dialogs with international investors. KWM, as the PRC legal counsel for the six underwriters, is also in the process of expanding its global network. After the strategic combination with Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Australia and SJ Berwin in the U.K., KWM has transformed itself from a Chinese law firm to a global one. KWM’s international initiative is of vital importance to the improvement of KWM lawyers’ professional skills. The transformation of Alibaba from a China-based company to an international one is also a valuable example for KWM and other Chinese law firms in their future expansion into the international legal market.