Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s biggest e-commerce company, shortlisted banks for a loan of as much as $8 billion, three people familiar with the matter said.
Nine lenders are seeking internal approvals to underwrite at least $500 million each, said the people, naming Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG, DBS Bank Ltd., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. and Morgan Stanley. No mandates have been issued, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private.
Formed in 1999 as an online marketplace for Chinese companies, Alibaba has grown as economic liberalization spurred a boom in manufacturing and trade. It has expanded its workforce to more than 24,000 and added services including cloud computing, online payments and consumer auctions. Billionaire founder Jack Ma said in January he would step down as chief executive officer on May 10, stoking speculation the company may be preparing for an initial public offering.
A Hong Kong-based Alibaba official declined to comment on the progress of the loan today.
About $4 billion of the loan proceeds will refinance a facility of that size signed last year for the privatization of Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed entity Alibaba.com and a buyback of a stake in itself owned by Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO:US), two other people familiar with the matter said on March 5. The remainder would be used for general corporate purposes, one of those people said.
Last year’s $4 billion borrowing was split into $2 billion of three-year and four-year loans from China Development Bank Corp. and $2 billion of three-year and four-year loans from international lenders, other people familiar with the matter said at the time.
An $8 billion facility would be the biggest syndicated loan in the Asia-Pacific region outside Japan since Inpex Corp. signed $20 billion of loans for its Ichthys project in Australia in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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