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Alibaba's Board Gets Ex-Goldman Vice Chair Evans

A previous version of this story stated Alibaba's first-quarter revenue as $8.4 billion and net income of $3.7 billion. TheStreet regrets this error.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - J. Michael Evans, the former Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs (GS), has landed on Alibaba's board of directors as the Chinese e-commerce behemoth moves towards an initial public offering in the United States.

Jim Cramer: Alibaba Is An Unstoppable Freight Train

Evans, a longtime banking executive who led Goldman's equity underwriting business, was often mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Lloyd Blankfein as CEO of the famed investment bank until his surprising retirement at the end of 2013.

Perhaps an appointment to Alibaba's board of directors gives new insight into Evans' hasty exit from Goldman. By all accounts, Alibaba's U.S. IPO is expected to be the biggest-ever stock offering, potentially going public with a valuation that compares to Amazon (AMZN), the leader in U.S. e-commerce, around $150 billion. Goldman is one of the six securities firms selected by Alibaba to underwrite its share offering. The firm was also an early investor in Alibaba.

In 1999, Goldman invested $3.3 million in Alibaba, according to media reports. However, the investment bank sold its Alibaba stake for $22 million in 2004, as the New York Times detailed earlier in June.

Evans, who acted as the Vice Chairman of Goldman's Asia operations for nearly a decade, had a history at the bank of leading investments in China's rising corporate giants such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Evans was asked to serve as an independent director on Alibaba's board of directors "because of his perspective as a proven leader in the international financial community and his unique knowledge and experience across Asia," the company said in an amended F-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

An Alibaba representative declined to elaborate when reached by telephone. Goldman Sachs spokesperson Michael Duvally didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Alibaba's Board, Financials Take Shape

Alibaba's amended F-1 added new disclosure to its board and unique partnership structure. The filing also disclosed updated financial results for Alibaba.

In the first quarter of calendar 2014, Alibaba earned Y12.031 billion in revenue and net income of just over Y5.54 billion. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came in at Y5.4 billion, indicating that the company continues to hold a financial profile that is unrivaled by U.S. e-commerce giants such as Amazon and eBay (EBAY).

Aside from financial results, Alibaba on Monday said its board would consist of founder Jack Ma, executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, Alibaba CEO Jonathan Zhaoxi Lu, COO Daniel Yonhg Zhang, Chee Hwa Tung, vice chairman of the Twelfth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of the PRC, former KPMG executive Walter Teh Ming Kwauk, Michael Evans, and Yahoo! (YHOO) founder Jerry Yang.

Yang led Yahoo's early investment in Alibaba and SoftBank's Son has also been a long-time investor and partner as the company has grown to the undisputed leader in e-commerce in China. Yahoo, unlike Goldman Sachs, retained most of its stake in Alibaba and is poised to receive tens of billions of dollars as a result of the company's IPO.

There are some interesting elements to Alibaba's disclosure of its board nominees.

Alibaba's unique partnership structure, which has been approved by both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, allows its partners to nominate a majority of candidates to the company's board of directors. However, instead of nominating a majority of partners to its board, Alibaba's partners have elected to nominate a majority of outside directors to the company's board.

Only four of Alibaba's board nominees are partners, while five are outside of the company's partnership. That indicates Alibaba's board may have more in common with U.S. peers than many may have expected. It also contrasts significantly with the dual class voting rights of other large Chinese IPO's such as JD.com (JD), Weibo (WB) and Cheetah Mobile (CMCM).

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