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Alibaba’s mega listing in Hong Kong may be prelude to exodus of Chinese tech stocks from US


  • Hong Kong changed its listing rules two years ago to lure more Chinese technology, biotechnology firms to the city
  • Secondary listing could give mainland Chinese first chance to buy shares in some of China’s tech giants

After Alibaba Group Holding’s US$12.9 billion offering in Hong Kong last month, investors are on the lookout for who will be the next Chinese technology giant to seek a similar windfall in the city.

Some of China’s biggest new economy names, including Baidu, JD.com and Weibo, are among a small universe of companies who previously raised capital in the United States and could easily pursue their own secondary listing in Hong Kong thanks to a rule change by the city’s bourse two years ago.

The listing reform made it easier for companies with dual classes of shares – a structure favoured by technology companies such as Facebook and Google – and pre-revenue biotechnology firms to seek secondary offerings in the city. It came after the Hong Kong stock exchange lost out to New York in a race for Alibaba’s US$25 billion initial public offering in 2014.

The success of Hangzhou-based Alibaba’s listing in Hong Kong – the second-biggest globally this year after Saudi Aramco’s IPO and the third largest technology offering on record – could spur more Chinese firms to seek their own listings closer to home, according to bankers, economists and market watchers

Sean Taylor, the chief investment officer for Asia-Pacific at asset manager DWS, said a secondary listing in Hong Kong would open up a new ecosystem of investors to Chinese firms that opted to list on American bourses and act as a potential hedge against the increasingly tense relationship between the US and China.

“It dampens the risk of waking up in the morning and having some China-US news go slightly bad or a tweet from [US President Donald Trump] and seeing all the [American depositary receipts] down,” Taylor said. “You’ve got a lot of good companies that are listed in ADRs in the US, but they’re completely domestically run Chinese businesses. They have nothing to do with global trade, but they get affected because of this in the US.”



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