Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has filed for a $US1 billion listing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission overnight, setting it up for one of the biggest IPOs in history. At a time when tech stocks are coming under pressure, can Jack Ma's internet behemoth get things going again?
Here are some facts and figures about the online retail monolith that illustrate exactly why its Wall Street debut is such a big deal.
1. Alibaba dwarfs eBay and Amazon...
By some measures, Alibaba is not just China's biggest e-commerce company but the biggest in the world.
Alibaba's three main sites -- Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com -- boast hundreds of millions of users and are home to millions of businesses.
Its revenue may be smaller than eBay's and Amazon's but on other measures it clearly wins the race.
Gross transactions totaled $US240bn last year -- more than both eBay and Amazon combined -- while net income, already miles ahead of Amazon, also surpassed that of eBay last year.
2013 Gross Merchandise Volume ($US billions)
2013 Net Income ($US billions)
2. ... And its net profit margins dwarf even Google's
2013 Net Profit Margin ($US billions)
3. Capital raised from Alibaba's IPO is set to make it one of the most valuable tech companies in the world
Analysts say the listing could raise somewhere around $US15 billion, which would make it the technology industry's largest IPO since Facebook's in 2012.
4. China's e-commerce market is the fastest growing in the world
5. Founder Jack Ma started the company in his apartment -- now he's worth billions
Ma holds around 7 per cent of Alibaba, with a net worth of about $US4 billion that is set to be boosted further by the listing.
Ma stepped down from his position as CEO last year but is set to retain a large controlling stake in the company even after it lists.
Alibaba's corporate structure (it is a Chinese state-owned enterprise) allows Ma and other executives to nominate more than half its board members -- one of the reasons it chose to list in the US rather than Hong Kong, which would not accept the structure.
With Wall Street Journal and AAP.
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