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.
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).
Alibaba operates Taobao Marketplace, China's largest online retail site, Tmall, a branding platform, and Juhuasuan, a group buying marketplace. When combined, the three divisions generated $248 billion in gross merchandise volumes from 231 million active buyers and 8 million active sellers in 2013. Mobile GMV's accounted for 27.4% of Alibaba's total volume in the first quarter, indicating that the company is continuing to see rising activity from mobile devices.
Activity from mobile devices is key to Alibaba's growth prospects given rising online penetration in China as a result of smartphone and tablet devices. Many new Chinese internet users have bypassed the desktop PC and are accessing the internet purely from their mobile devices.
The company also operates Alibaba.com, China's largest online wholesale marketplace by revenue, 1688.com, and AliExpress, a global consumer marketplace.
In addition, Alipay, serves as Alibaba's online payment platform. The division generally draws comparison to eBay's PayPal unit. Alibaba also said it offers cloud computing services to third parties and which supports the company's ecosystem.
Alibaba didn't disclose segment results from its different businesses in its amended F-1 filing. Filings leading up to Alibaba's IPO are also are unlikely to make those disclosures.
Selling Shareholders, Underwriters
Softbank, Yahoo!, Jack Ma and Joe Tsai are listed as principal or selling shareholders in Alibaba's prospectus. Prior the offering, Alibaba said Softbank is the beneficial owner of 34.3% of the company's shares, while Yahoo is a beneficial owner of 22.5% of the company. Ma is the beneficial owner of 8.9% of Alibaba, while Tsai owns 3.6% of the company.
Masayoshi Son, Jacqueline D. Reses, Jonathan Z. Lu, Daniel Y. Zhang, Maggie W. Wu, Jian Wang and Timothy A. Steinert are also listed as beneficial owners of Alibaba.
Alibaba has hired six underwriters, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, to lead its U.S.-based IPO.
-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York