Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding has decided to pursue an initial public offering in New York after talks with Hong Kong regulators broke down over a listing in the Asian financial hub, sources said today.
The decision ends weeks of negotiations between the company, the Hong Kong stock exchange and the city's regulators over Alibaba's shareholding structure.
The talks have delayed the launch of a sale that may be worth more than $15 billion.
The debate centered on the ability for Alibaba to list in Hong Kong and, at the same time, allow its "partners" - a group of founders and senior employees - to keep control over the makeup of its board.
The choice of New York should make it easy for Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his management team to keep a tight grip on the company with a dual share structure that's common to Internet companies including Google and Facebook.
"We've come to the end of dialogue with Hong Kong and we're pivoting to the US to start the listing process," a company source familiar with the discussions said.
Alibaba has engaged US law firms to start working on its IPO and will soon be hiring banks to manage the listing, the company source added.
The IPO is hugely important to two of Alibaba's major shareholders, internet giant Yahoo and Japan's Softbank, because Alibaba's market valuation would add billions of dollars to the two companies' assets.
Yahoo, which owns 24% of Alibaba, is keen to sell part of its stake. Softbank is the company's biggest shareholder with a 35% stake, while Ma, former chief financial officer and co-founder Joe Tsai, and other company executives own about 10%.