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Capital Markets

Asia’s unhealthy Alibaba obsession

Investment banks have taken heart from more buoyant equity capital markets, but they are probably putting too much store by potential blockbuster deals such as an Alibaba IPO.

Jack Ma, CEO Alibaba. A listing anywhere but Hong Kong would be a hard knock to confidence in the Asia-Pacific region

Jack Ma, CEO Alibaba. A listing anywhere but Hong Kong would be a hard knock to confidence in the Asia-Pacific region 

For ECM bankers in Asia Pacific it has been tempting to view the IPO of Alibaba as the deal that will make or break a year that has, so far, flattered only to deceive. The zeal in Hong Kong to get on a potential deal for which so few details are even public yet shows how important it is considered to be by banks, many of which are struggling to break even in Asia Pacific and facing a fight to justify their very presence in the region. They need big-ticket deals, need them quickly, and an Alibaba IPO might raise up to $13 billion.

The Chinese technology company, founded by Jack Ma, dubbed the Steve Jobs of Asia, might stage the world’s largest IPO since Facebook when it eventually decides to press ahead with a stock offering.

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