Alibaba Group Holding (BABA) - Get Report is mulling a $20 billion follow-up listing in Hong Kong, according to media reports published Tuesday, a move that could raise questions over the fate of China-based companies raising cash through IPOs on U.S. exchanges.
Reuters reported Tuesday that Alibaba will look raise as much as $20 billion from a Hong Kong listing of the online retailing and tech giant's shares later this year. Alibaba floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, raising $25 billion in what remains the world's biggest IPO some five years later, Since then, China-based firms have flocked to the U.S. market to raise equity capital, with 33 listings worth $9 billion last year and 2019 pace that could see over 40 companies debuting before the end of the year.
Alibaba shares were marked 1.2% higher at the start of trading Tuesday and changing hands at $156.80 each in the opening hour trading.
Alibaba's reported move to list in Hong Kong, however, could reflect concern for the fate of Chinese companies doing business with, or having capital ties to, the United States as it presses hard for changes to its current trade agreement with Beijing.
Last week, former White House adviser Steve Bannon, a noted hawk on U.S.-China relations but nonetheless an influential voice in certain Republican party circles, told the South China Morning Post that "the next move we make is to cut off all the IPOs, unwind all the pension funds and insurance companies in the U.S. that provide capital to the Chinese Communist Party."
"We'll see a big move on Wall Street to restrict access to capital markets to Chinese companies until they agree to] this fundamental reform," he said.
Around 160 Chinese companies are listed on U.S. exchanges, according to the U.S.-China
Economic and Security Review Commission -- including Alibaba, Baidu and JD.Com -- with around 11 of those having at least a 30% stake owned by the Chinese government.
Earlier this month, Luckin Coffee Inc. (LK) - Get Report debuted on the Nasdaq stock exchange with an IPO that valued the China-based rival to Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report at more than $4.2 billion, but chipmaker SMIC said it would de-list its U.S shares and place them on the Hong Kong market instead.
Recent moves by the White House to restrict the ability of China-backed Huawei Technologies from doing business with the Untied States, while simultaneously pressuring its international allies to shut it out of 5G network construction contracts going forward, has created significant tension between Washington and Beijing.
It's also raised the prospect of both reprisals from the Chinese government and a "tech cold war" that could add further uncertainty to companies attempting to lever production and exports between the world's two biggest economies.
"Our assumption is that the banning of Huawei will not be reversed; it has widespread political support in the U.S., and with very few Huawei phone users to complain about the ban -- unlike in Europe -- the pushback will be minimal," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics. "China, we think, is just going to have to live with this if they want a trade deal."