Alibaba: Chinese Web Giant's Massive US IPO
A Chinese e-commerce business is bidding to list itself on one of the US stock exchanges in what could be the biggest IPO of 2014.
Alibaba†Group is a privately-owned firm which incorporates a search engine, business-to-business web portals, online retail sites, payment service platforms and cloud computing services.
It was estimated to have generated more than £170bn in sales in 2012 and is believed to serve more than half of all online transactions in China.
The firm had looked at listing on stock exchanges in Hong Kong and London but has now ruled them out.
It is thought the group will use the New York Stock Exchange, rather than the technology-focused NASDAQ exchange.
Speculation about a New York listing for Alibaba began last September.
The news comes two days after another Chinese tech giant, Twitter-like service Weibo, announced plans for a $500m†(£300m) US listing.
A statement from the company said: "Alibaba Group has decided to commence the process of an initial public offering in the United States.
"This will make us a more global company and enhance the company's transparency, as well as allow the company to continue to pursue our long-term vision and ideals."
Analysts say the listing is expected to raise up to $15bn (£9bn), which would make it the technology industry's largest IPO since Facebook in 2012.
Talks between the world's largest online retailer and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange broke down last year.
Alibaba wanted an alternative class share structure to give selected minority shareholders extra control over the board, but the Hong Kong bourse declined to change its rules.
The firm did not rule out returning to the Chinese sub continent for a listing in the future.
It is not known why London was ruled out.
The Wall Street Journal reported Alibaba could launch its IPO as soon as April, which could allow trading to begin by the third quarter.
The report said up to five banks may be given lead underwriting roles.
Alibaba operates China's most popular e-shopping platform, Taobao, which has more than 500 million users.