Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Well, I've spent the morning in Mumbai discussing some very exciting B2B online businesses and time after time, our friends in Hangzhou come up as the key comparator.

Interesting, then, to see the Wall Street Journal report (may need subscription) in its May Day special that:

Alibaba Group's plans to take its business-to-business unit public highlights the growing international ambitions of one of China's most prominent Internet companies.

Alibaba, 40% owned by Yahoo Inc., plans to list the B2B operation on either the Nasdaq Stock Market or the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, people familiar with the plan said. The unit, the company's biggest source of revenue, uses the Internet to help match manufacturers in China and elsewhere with potential buyers of their products.

The Journal goes on to suggest that Goldman and Morgan Stanley have been selected to lead the listing which it says could raise $800 million. I guess that depends on how much they plan to float but looks a touch low given the $1 billion that Yahoo! spent for its 40% stake.

Update: Thanks to colleague Mark Cochrane for pointing me also the the Forbes piece on this. Not sure which article came first but they're obviously drawing from largely the same sources. Interesting to note the bit about the Nippolibaba initiative in Japan.

Alibaba recently announced plans to set up a Japanese unit in the third quarter. It has already hired about 20 Japanese to revamp a Japan-focused Web site it set up five years ago in an unsuccessful effort to make inroads in the B2B market there. By establishing a local unit, Alibaba.com aims to better target small and midsize businesses.

This is following in Baidu's footsteps and looks set to become an important line extension for the Chinese web giants.

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