Alibaba plans $5 billion bond issue - GulfToday

Alibaba plans $5 billion bond issue


The headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou, China. File/Agence France-Presse

China’s Alibaba Group Holding plans to raise at least $5 billion through the sale of a US dollar-denominated bond this month, four people with knowledge of the matter said, amid regulatory scrutiny of co-founder Jack Ma’s empire.

Depending on investor response, proceeds could reach $8 billion which the e-commerce leader is likely to use for general corporate expenditure, one of the people said.

The fundraising will be a test of investor sentiment towards Alibaba, amid a regulatory crackdown on it and financial technology affiliate Ant Group. Chinese officials have come down hard on Ma’s business empire since he publicly criticised the country’s regulatory system in October setting off a chain of events that resulted in the halting of Ant Group’s $37 billion stock market listing.

Ma’s absence from public view in the intervening time has fuelled social media speculation over his whereabouts.

The bond sale plan, including timeline, is not finalised and is subject to change, the people said, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Alibaba declined to comment.

Since Ma’s speech, Chinese regulators have begun an antitrust probe into Alibaba and ordered fintech Ant to change its lending and other consumer finance businesses, including the creation of a holding company to meet capital requirements.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also ratcheted up tensions, moving to ban transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Ant Group’s Alipay mobile payment app.

Chinese regulators are also reviewing Ant’s equity investments in dozens of companies and considering whether to instruct the firm to divest some of those investments, Reuters has reported.

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